A Letter to Grandma, One Year Later

This blog was originally going to be posted on December 27, 2013, but my blog was down for maintenance. For all those who commented on my Facebook posting of this entry, thank you for your kind words.

Dear Grandma,

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I said my final goodbye to you. A very fast year, and one that I wish you were here for.

There has been so much that this year has taught me. Not only the obvious things – a new country, a new language – but so much about love, loss, and what really matters in life.

You would have loved to hear about Ukraine. From the beginning, it’s been an amazing experience. My host family was truly wonderful to me, and I lived in a village whose name translates to “Old White Moustache.” How cool was that? I also got into my fair share of funny stories (locking my host dad out of the house in the middle of the night, loudly smacking my head on an icon during the Easter church service), which would have made you laugh so hard.

And now, I’ve been in my new city for 6 months, and I am truly at home. I’ve got a wonderful group of friends and coworkers. I’ve found meaningful work that inspires me and keeps me busy. There are challenges, there are frustrations, but there are a lot of people who care about me. And that’s what I’ve learned – people, and loving them, is all that really matters in life.

That was your best lesson, Grandma. You loved us all, without strings. You forgave us and always welcomed us with open arms. I’m trying to live by your example, as best as I can.

It’s so funny, because even after you were gone, you still brought people together. At your funeral, my best friend and her parents came to pay their respects. I wasn’t supposed to see them before Ukraine, but they made a special stop, and her dad sent me a message afterwards: “if you think about it…if it wasn’t for your Grandma…we might not have seen you before you go on your next adventure…so in a way…SHE brought us all together that night.” Your ability to connect people has never ended, Grandma.

I have missed you so much. There have times that I have cried so hard from missing you, I thought I wouldn’t catch my breath ever again. And that’s what I have learned, too – that sorrow is deeper than I imagined. That missing someone does not end. I always thought I’d be a person that would say “you know, she had a really long life, so I’m just very grateful for that.” Except, I’m not. I’m the person who says “The 26 years and 360 days I had with her wasn’t enough. And while I should say all those nice things about being grateful, I just really, really want her back.”

There’s a movie quote I heard not so long ago, and it makes me think of you. “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” Every day, you live on, Grandma. You live on in every person I meet, every friend I make, in my laughter, in every good thing I do. And every inappropriate joke I tell – that was from you, too. You live on through all of the lives you touched. You will forever be part of this world, even though you are not here to see it.

If you have a moment, please check with death and see if there is a return policy. I’d really, really like to have you back.

I miss you like hell, and I always will.

I love you.

Ashley

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The two of us, in the matching glasses you got for us. You were always one stylish woman.

 

Happy to take any comments!