I didn’t feel right posting some recipes (not that I have any) before sharing the events of July with all of you, especially since so many of you are good friends and family.
As many of you know, Evie lost her paternal grandmother , Maureen, on July 15th. She had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012 and after a long fight, she finally joined our Father in heaven. We were able to celebrate her life on July 21st, surrounded by family and friends who came from near and far to support the family and show their appreciation for Maureen and her role in their lives. It was really beautiful to look around and see the many lives that she had touched. To be honest though, she would have been embarrassed that so many people had interrupted their lives to attend her funeral because humility was one of her most apparent virtues, one that Ryan has inherited 100%.
Only a few days earlier, doctors had informed the family that Maureen likely only had a few weeks left. We had already booked tickets to VA to see her earlier that week, but the news made the trip that much more urgent. What weighed most heavily on me was the realization that it would likely be Evie’s last chance to see her grandmother, and I couldn’t even explain that to her. I couldn’t tell her to be on her best behavior or to give Grandma an extra big hug. I couldn’t tell her anything, which I guess in a way is a blessing, mostly because it is a reminder of the innocence of a child, and how envious I was of that. Not having to face the tough moments in life and just living blissfully in ignorance because you’re 1 and you don’t know any better.
Maureen did her best to rally during our visit. She was moving about, paying bills, visiting with friends who stopped by to see her, and even joined us at the table for dinner, although she was no longer interested in eating at that point. I did do my best to tell her what I think I would want to hear if I was in her shoes. That we would take care of Dennis, her husband/Ryan’s father, and Darius, her grandson whom she and Dennis brought into their home to care for years ago. He is now 7. She didn’t say anything when I told her that. She looked me in the eyes and nodded, but I understood that I had just addressed a major fear of hers and hopefully, put that fear to rest as much as I could.
I do wish I had told her something else, though. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but she mentioned to me that she was scared of what lied ahead for her. I wanted to tell her that an incredible place was waiting for her. A place where she would be the happiest she had ever been, and the most peaceful she had ever been. She would be able to drink wine again, to see her parents, to see her friends, and most importantly to meet our Lord. But I didn’t say that. I don’t know why, but in a way, I wondered if it would help. What did I know? I was another human who had never done this before, so while I could express my faith as much as possible, when you are face to face with death, I can only imagine that you may have doubts and wonder “Wait…am I really going to heaven? Should I have done something differently?” Luckily, Maureen was a devout Catholic, and there is no doubt in my mind about where she is right now. And that is exactly what the priest spoke about during her funeral, which I was so thankful for. Those were the words that I needed to hear that day.
And so I lived a moment I will never forget. Saying goodbye to Maureen the Sunday before she died as Evie and I headed back to the airport to return home. I busied myself a few minutes beforehand making sure the suitcases were packed, that I had enough snacks for Evie in my carry-on, located my ID, all the while cursing time for flying by. But there was no stopping it, nothing I could do, and we had to say goodbye. So I gave her an extra long hug, and as much as I tried not to cry in order to be strong for her, I couldn’t help it. I cried for Evie also, that she would not get to know this amazing woman, although I was thankful that they had met. That Maureen got to meet her granddaughter. But I knew that would be the last time I saw her, and I tried to take in as much as possible- her waving to us from the front porch as we pulled away.
And it was the last time.
She died two days later. But I got to tell her on behalf of Evie and myself, “We love you, too.”