It wasn't a surprise. She'd been battling illness and age; I had made that trip up to see her knowing it would probably be the last time.
None of that made it any easier.
I ran with my phone on Do Not Disturb, aware I might get a text from my mom mid-race and wanting to avoid that possibility. I debated writing her name on my arm for the race, but chose not to. She surfaced in my mind around mile 4, randomly and without any conscious thought or meaning attached. Just Grandma, Grandma, think of Grandma.
As it was, that text I was dreading but kind of expected came about thirty minutes after we finished. Grandma passed right around the time Matt and I crossed the finish line.
She was 90. She was a veteran who died Veterans Day weekend, and for some reason I just keep thinking about that.
Death is hard on the living.
Matt and I fly out for her funeral this week. I am not someone who can run while grieving. My grief manifests as numbness punctuated by moments of uncontrollable weeping. Neither of those states is conducive to running. My mind and body want to remain shut down; running makes me feel vulnerable. It brings emotions to the surface. I tend to feel emotionally swamped when I run while sad.
|Grandma and her six kids. I love this photo for many reasons, but especially because my mom looks exactly like I did at that age.
|Grandma, Grandpa, the six kids + my dad
My grandma and I didn't see eye-to-eye on some things, but I know she loved me. I really believe she waited to let go until after she'd seen all her people one last time, and that's why she declined so quickly after our visit. I have photos and heirlooms and recipes and a million warm memories to remember her by.
|At my bat mitzvah in 1999.
|The first time she met Matt, after we got engaged.
|My wedding was the last time they visited us in Florida.
I was lucky to have her for as long as I did, and lucky to have a grandma so full of genuine love.