Brenda T. and Joyce N. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Mom never sat with her mother in church, but walked in the doors holding her hand before the service and out the doors holding her hand when it was over. My mother would sit with trusted friends in the pews while her mom jammed on the church's piano, turning the traditional hymns into songs of her own. Although Grandma didn't sit with my mom in church, she always knew she was there. Her spirited attitude and her passion for living life fully drifted down to the ears of my mom and the other churchgoers as her customized chords filled the halls and their hearts.

Throughout Mom's childhood, Grandma was always there, just like in church. They were best friends. As a child, they taught me the value of their mother-daughter friendship and I was blessed to find my own friendship with my mother as a result.

I remember going to Grandma's with Mom. It never felt like we were from separate generations. Instead we were three best friends spending time together. When I was younger, we would have tea parties, and Grandma would let me wear her stiletto heels. When I grew older, the three of us would sit on her patio sipping tea, talking about boys, school, and God.

Sometimes conversations felt one-sided. Grandma had taught Mom and Mom had taught me, and often it seemed we were essentially the same woman. We bought books for each other and borrowed each other's clothes. Mom taught me recipes she had been taught as a girl. Mom would ask me questions she had been asked. Grandma would laugh at my answers because they were almost the same as Mom's. We shared the same strengths and weaknesses, fears and joys – and taught each other how to use them to help us grow. We loved each other.

As a teenager, those you love most are immortal. I was 16 and invincible, therefore, Grandma, who was more technologically “hip” than even me and acted like a 30-year-old, was immortal as well. That is, until that 16-year-old hears about cancer. Then things are rethought and it occurs to the 16-year-old what a scary place she might be in and that place seems a whole lot more scary when she thinks about being there alone.

Mom and I feared life without my grandma more than we feared her death. Mom feared losing her best friend, and I was afraid because my best friend was afraid. I would hold Mom's hand as she cried and asked, “Who will be number one on my speed dial?” “Who will I make grape jelly with?” and “Who will be my best friend?” I told her I would.

We didn't know how we would live without her. Grandma told us with confidence that we would be fine when she left this place. She promised us that she had done all she needed to do. She had raised a fabulous daughter who raised a fabulous granddaughter, and Grandma said she couldn't ask to give the world any more. She said she had already taught us everything we needed to know.

It was most difficult losing her that spring because we loved her, and she loved us, and love is a hard thing to live without. But we were able to love her because she taught us to love. And because she taught us to love each other as best friends, we still had our bond, almost the same one we'd had with her.

Mom didn't sit next to Grandma in the church during the funeral. She sat with trusted friends. And she sat with me, her best friend. Even though Grandma wasn't there, her flair and passion drifted through the church as it always had. When my mom walked into the church that final day, she might not have held Grandma's hand, but she carried her spirit and a ­lifetime of blessings in her heart. I held my mom's hand though, and so the song of Grandma's life plays on.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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