Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dallas does...a grandma goodbye.

In what was to become one of my most memorable monologues to God, I prayed, begged and pleaded with the man upstairs to guarantee that my Grandma Jenkins would be at my wedding some day. And, maybe, if I promised to be a good little girl, he would even allow her to live to see her great-grandchildren.
It's funny that my smaller self sitting curled-up on the same living room floor that I write this post from was concerned about many of the same ideas that my blog posts are filled with: family, love and marriage. Three elements that are all tied-up with the painfully beautiful process of growing up.
Grandma died early this morning. And needless to say I have neither married nor had children. So the question becomes, am I mad at God? Mad that he didn't understand that at 20 I still pray for the same things I asked for that day so many years ago?
And the answer is, of course, no. If God answered all my prayers, I'd be the wife of the fourth-grade dreamboat, Nick, right about now instead of a successful college student with an exciting and rewarding life.
It's easy for me to understand that death is a natural process. Even easier to be at peace with the idea that Grandma can now rest instead of continuing to live with the debilitating symptoms of a powerful stroke.
But it's so hard for me to keep from placing the anger that's still there squarely on my own shoulders.
Obviously selflessness is never the top characteristic of a college student, but I am still sick thinking about how much more I could have done for my Grandma over these last few years.
Now, a lot of people reading this have never met Mrs. Evelyn Jenkins. Except, you might know more about her than you think.
She was like a classic mash-up of all the most gramtastic qualities that exist in the world.
She made the best chocolate chip cookies (in TWO varieties), read my favorite stories over and over again when I went to her house after school and couldn't end a conversation without saying "I love you" at least three times.
She also shook her head in dismay when my hair fell in my face, warned me more than once about the arthritis I would be sure to contract if I kept texting with such voracity and forwarded on more crazy emails that I'd care to count.
Once, a stool I left out as the steps to my imagined princess fortress on the couch caused her to trip and even as blood ran down from her face she was smiling and telling me that everything will be okay.
It's the fate of the world's grandmas: to always take care, and to never be taken care of enough.
And as I've sobbed to my mom, I wish I had a few more days to be a better granddaughter.
It seems that the people who love us best are the easiest to not love enough in return.
When you can do no wrong in their eyes, it's easy to not do enough right.
But as I sit here knowing that her death offered her peace after weeks of suffering, I understand that it would be unfair to demand that she wait until I finally have my fill of grandma love before she goes on to heaven.
Because I wouldn't ever have my fill of grandma love.
When mom and I talked about what saying goodbye to grandma would mean, she tried to explain that I can't allow myself to drown in this guilt. That grandma was so incredibly proud of me that there was nothing else I could have done to make her happier.
And I have to accept that. Because if I don't, it will tear me apart.
And I think the fact that I was always strong enough not to fall apart was what grandma liked about me most.
It was her unconditional love that helped me become the bright, bubbly person I am today. A person who overflows with love because of the surplus I've always had in my family life.
So as impossible as it may seem right now, I know everything will be okay. And I think that even that little girl who desperately pleaded for her Grandma to always be around knew that Grandmas aren't things we can hold on to forever.
We eventually have to say goodbye and work hard to become that Kelsey that Grandma saw every time she looked at me.
A Kelsey who deserved every bit of Grandma love that she got.
And so this week I have to let my grandma go, and yet hold on to the way she loved me unstoppably. Loved me without pumping the brakes.
She won't be at my wedding. And she won't meet my kids. But she'll still be there in the way I love the people in my life, loving without accounting for what a person may deserve, and just loving them for being who they are. Loving them for who they are going to be.
I love you so much, grandma.


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