November 19, 2014. It’s been one year, Granma. One year since you’ve been gone.
One year of Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. One year of joys and triumphs, of wins and losses. And in each of these places there has been a Granma-sized hole that we haven’t been able to fill. Not sure that we want to, really.
Since you’ve been gone a lot of things have happened. I thought maybe you’d like to know. As you begin your eternity, I realize that in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t really matter. But, I thought maybe you’d like to know anyway.
Sure, this has been the year of Ukraine, Ferguson, ISIS, and Ebola. But, there have been a lot of good things, too.
Since you’ve been gone, everybody is doing fine. Dad is in Ethiopia right now, continuing to do what he does best. Aside from traveling the world training ministry leaders, his favorite place to be is still out in the backyard during the fall season clearing leaves and picking up acorns. He finally got his grass, Granma! And Mom got her circular driveway. He’s pretty excited about that.
Since you’ve been gone, Madelyn Grace got a new swing set, which seems to be more thrilling for her right now than the very soon arrival of a little sister. She’s about to be upstaged for a little bit. I think I can relate to the kid. Aside from her mommy and daddy, her favorite person right now is Grandma Sessoms. We are a lot alike, she and I.
Since you’ve been gone, I dug through some boxes. I was on a mission and at last I found your famous carrot cake recipe on a teeny tiny piece of paper. Granma, why did you keep your most famous of recipes on a teeny tiny piece of paper? It should be framed or something. Perhaps you were going to make time for that, but you were called home before you could get to it, I don’t know. Richey, Ashley and I made your carrot cake for Dad’s birthday. It wasn’t quite the same, but I think it meant a lot to Dad. He’s 60 now, you know. We still eat your waffles for Christmas. Perhaps I’d get around to making your cookies this time, but I just couldn’t do it last year. It was too close.
Since you’ve been gone, know that Sophie and Nala, Zorro and Cali- they all made it another year. The Annandale house is really “Zorro’s house” now since he, in fact, is the real head of that household.
Since you’ve been gone, Aunt Toni is still up in Michigan trying to change the world through politics. I don’t really get why people choose to live in the frozen tundra of Michigan, but she loves it there. I’ll visit when its warmer.
And me? Well, first, I have a confession, Granma. I must confess that since you’ve been gone I broke your duck. You know that ceramic duck I admired for as long as my memory holds? Fell off the shelf and shattered in several pieces. Kind of like my heart. As I tried gluing the duck back together I cried buckets of tears. I care more about that stupid duck than any of the other items I “inherited.” He’s still in pieces as I can’t bear to part from him. Pieces of duck reminds me of pieces of life. Stretch of analogy, I know, but you get it, don’t you, Granma? Perhaps I’ll write about the broken duck someday.
Since you’ve been gone I moved into a big girl apartment. Sure, the living in China thing was a big girl thing, I guess, but it was easier there. I know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I think you get it. You always did get it. This whole figuring out the thermostat thing has been a cultural adjustment. Thermostats, who knew?! This apartment has reminders of you every day since I got much of your furniture. Yet, all I really cared about was that stupid duck.
Since you’ve been gone I started attending a new church. I still love my other church and try to stay involved as much as possible. I guess you can say I have my feet planted in both worlds. My old church, (your church, too, really) are those roots that you gave me. Roots that meant so much throughout a childhood that was decorated with constant transition. It’s a huge part of my heritage and some of the dearest people in the world are rooted there. And, well, this new church still has some kinks to work out, but I’m learning what it means “to fit in my own skin.” From the time I was a young child you would constantly say that I needed to learn how to do that, fit in my own skin. But one of the best things about my new church is that it sits directly across the street from your Walnut Street house. The house in which you raised my father. Each time I turn into the church’s entrance I gaze at your house, pause a second, and smile.
Since you’ve been gone, I still get lost on ordinary streets. You’d find that funny. Mostly because you’d be getting lost right there with me. I’ve even started avoiding left-hand turns just like you used to do. You know what else you’d find funny? This month I lost my phone and wallet in the same two-week period. Give it another month and I might find it funny, too. If I listen really closely I can still hear your laugh. You know, that unique whistle thing you do between your teeth?
Since you’ve been gone, the car still smells like you. I can’t really explain it. It’s not a bad smell. It’s a “You” smell. And then there’s another smell: whenever I get a whiff of your White Shoulders perfume I find myself naturally gravitating towards its source.
Since you’ve been gone, I’ve made a few friends. This friend making business is not easy at this stage in life. But you’d be proud that I’m trying. And there’s a boy that I like, Granma. You’d like him.
Since you’ve been gone I tried to take over your role in finances for Freedom to Lead. But, those are tough tough shoes to fill. Working for Dad continues to be equally amazing and challenging, and when we celebrated five years last August you were there in the pages of FTL’s history. “Despite how hard it is, there’s something really special about being part of a pioneering work,” you once said. Yes, Granma, there really is.
When our family is driving me bonkers, I still imagine myself sitting in the den and talking it out with you. I imagine you sitting there and patting my head like we used to joke about. I’d pat your head, you’d pat mine. There’s a new movie out that you’d enjoy. Normally we’d read the book together and then go see it. We’d spend hours dissecting how the movie and book are similar. The last movie I saw in the theater had me in buckets of tears because you weren’t there and you should have been.
Buckets of tears seems to be a recurring theme. Grief is unpredictable, really. It hits you at the least expected moments. They say it gets easier over time. Perhaps.
I visited your resting place today. Today, the coldest of days. And while I know you’re not really there, I also know you’re somehow with all of us, still.
A lot has happened since you’ve been gone…
I miss you, Granma. Every single day. But, today I choose joy. Today I choose to remember the good times. Today I choose to thank God for the life you lived…and are living still.