When It Rains, Love Begins

February 1, 2011
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It was November 1, 2010, All Saint’s Day, exactly one month ago today. I couldn’t believe it. My worst fear had become a reality. I’d never lost someone who meant so much to me. I walked into the kitchen where the rest of my family was standing. My parents looked at each other and then at my brother and I. They told us what happened and I collapsed onto the ground in tears. There was no way that my greatest hero, my biggest role model, my Gramma, was really gone.

I was in shock. This was real. The thing I’d dreaded most my entire life had come true. She had had so many illnesses throughout her life and I had always been scared about the coming of this day. Thoughts and memories flooded into my head, including the memory of my last day with her at Upstate Hospital in New York. I thought about my Grampa having to deal with the loss of his true soul mate. I screamed, “No! This can’t actually be happening! She’s not gone!” It felt like she was still there though. It seemed like she was just in her house in Syracuse, New York, baking or cleaning like any other day. I knew right then that although I was going to miss her for the rest of my life, she would always be with me.

The next few days were rough, to say the least. We drove up to Syracuse where the funeral would be held. I felt suffocated by sad and sorry family and friends. People tried to talk to me. They told me to think of all the happy memories and be grateful I had her in my life for 16 years, as I am the oldest of the Grandchildren. This didn’t help; this made me even sadder. It made me realize that I will never be able to make any more memories with her.
The viewing was the most depressing time of my life. Seeing all the old pictures of my Gramma and especially seeing the pictures of her with me made me break down in tears every time I turned to face them. I didn’t want to cry anymore, but every time I saw her body lying in the casket I couldn’t hold myself together. This isn’t the way I wanted to remember her. I didn’t want to remember her lying lifelessly in a casket with the wrong shade of nail polish on. I didn’t want to remember seeing her swollen face all made up surrounded by her hair with the wrong color dye in it. I couldn’t stand seeing her like this, but I couldn’t look away. I just needed to be with her. I felt like I could never let her go.

That night we had some family over. My Mom and Grampa had pulled together some of the last cookies remaining from my Gramma’s freezer to share with everyone. She was known for her cookies and pies. Everyone looked forward to seeing a giant tray wrapped with plastic filled with her professional tasting cookies tied up with ribbons. Such a sight was expected at every family event. Tasting my favorite chocolate mint cookies, and knowing this was one of the last times I would ever be able to eat something made by someone so special to me upset me a lot. I just wanted to savor the flavor and try to remember the taste, leaving me with one more way to hold on to my Gramma.

The next morning was the last time I would ever get to see her. I didn’t want to look away, as if I would lose all memory of her if I did. A man at the funeral parlor told me my time was up and the priest was waiting at the church. I was very angry. I thought, “How dare some stranger tell me when I have to leave my Gramma for the last time!” Then I remembered; my Gramma is no longer in that body. She will be with me everywhere I go in everything I do. She will never leave me.

I got out of the car at the church, walked up the stairs and in the door. There she was, inside the closed coffin. I knew that this was going to be a challenging mass. We proceeded into the church, the church that my Gramma’s parents helped build, the church where my grandparents were married, and my mom was baptized as well as married. I took my seat between my seven and eight year old cousins, Amanda and Rachel. I realized how confusing this must be for them. Death is a hard concept for anyone, but for a young child it must be even harder to understand. I heard bits and pieces of what everyone said as they spoke before us, but I couldn’t stop focusing on how sad I was; how sad everyone was.

They say rain on a funeral is a sign of good luck and a sign that heaven is sharing in your sorrow. I’m still not sure which produced the most tears that day: the clouds or the family and friends of an amazing lady that I am so proud to call my Gramma. My Grampa told me that when he and my Gramma first started dating, they liked a song in which there was a line saying, “When it rains, love begins.” He remembered this on the day of her funeral and found it very appropriate. My Gramma was the most amazing person I have ever met and I was so blessed to have her in my life. Obviously I would have loved her to stay here longer, but I know that she will always be with me. She has taught me so much about love, life, and friendship. She’ll continue to help me throughout my life, just in different ways than if she was physically here. I believe that dying on All Saint’s Day was the most appropriate day for her because she truly was a saint.





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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

jjones said...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 8:29 am

Jackie-

Wonderfully written!  You exhibit true grace in this article.  Thank you for sharing your experience.  May your Gramma rest in peace.

 
AllieClement said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm
I was literally about to cry.  This is amazing.
 
Heidi said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Jackie,

Such a special tribute to your Gramma.  Keep writing from the heart!

 

Love,

 

Aunt Heidi

 

 

 
Mrs. Wachtel said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm
Jackie Rose you have truely captured your Gramma's spirit.  She was the true meaning of a "lady". You will find yourself asking... what would Gramma answer be?  She is still there to give you answers.
 
Letitia said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

A beautiful and honest portrayal of Auntie and your feelings about one of life's greatest tragedies. I hope you know all of us who spoke to you at the services were trying desperately to comfort you, not sadden you more. I'm so glad you have so many beautiful memories with your Grandma. Cherish them forever!

Love, Debby

 
Snoopy said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 8:03 pm
Jackie, What a wonderful way to express your feelings. It was written very nicely and yes she is always w/you.  Love you and very lucky to have you has a niece. Love Tam
 
mpb4116 said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 7:28 pm
Such a beautiful tribute. Jackie Rose, I've known your Gramma and mom for (yikes) about 25 years and your Gramma was truly a gem. You are clearly following in her (and your mom's) footsteps. God bless you all.
 
MBouchard said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm
What a touching article! I'm sure it took a lot of strength and guidance from above! She's looking out for you!
 
KLenta said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Jackie Rose, I am so very proud of you and so is Gramma! I love you, Mom
 
Chief said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm
What an amazingly perceptive and talented grandaughter.  Her grandmother was obviously a very positive influence and was a good mentor.
 
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