A Year Ago Today…

In Family on March 3, 2010 at 8:08 am

I was driving around taking pictures of homes for a company that I was doing freelance work for.  My phone rang as I was driving.  It was my brother calling, which seemed a bit surprising since he is usually too busy during the day to speak.  Before long, I heard the words that I always knew could come at any time, but held out hope that the day would be in the future…“Grandma died.” After finding out what happened, I pulled over to the side of the road in shock.  The sadness that I felt at the moment was nothing compared to the sadness that I would feel later on in the day.

Driving home after receiving news like that was extremely difficult as the tears made it hard to see the road clearly.  When I got home, my wife had already heard the news.  She did her best to console me as I told her that I didn’t know how I was going to tell my 6-yr old son what had happened.  There is no parent manual to prepare you for moments like this.

I asked my wife to pick him up from school at the normal time.  He walked through the door and excitedly shouted “Hi Daddy!” (as always).  Seeing the sadness on my face, I sat him down and told him that I had some bad news to tell him…“Bubby died today.” He shrieked in a way that I had never heard before, and will never forget.  As we hugged and cried together over the loss, I did my best to explain to him what had happened.  And though he understood what death meant because of the stories that I’ve shared with him about my father (who passed away before my son was born), this was the first time that he had to deal with death directly.  The only real solace came from the fact that she lived a long, happy life of 96 years.

My grandmother was the glue that held the extended family together.  She was well-known and loved by the people in the building that she lived in for many years, as well as the community at large.  It is rare to find a person that is so beloved that no one has a negative word to say about them.  But that was my grandmother.

Though I no longer live in New York, I can’t imagine driving past the apartment that she lived in when I visit Manhattan again.  It just wouldn’t feel right.  After all, her apartment was the place where the family gatherings were held, even after the grandchildren had gotten married and had children of their own.  Most of us tend to think that family gatherings need to be held in the biggest place possible.  But somehow, we found a way to squeeze seventeen adults and seven kids into her apartment come holiday time.  It was all that any of us ever knew.

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to celebrate the holidays anyplace else, and more importantly, without my grandmother being there.  Because of the timing of my move, I still don’t know what it feels like to celebrate with the family someplace else.  Even though I wasn’t there personally, I have to imagine that it felt very strange, with my grandmother’s absence creating a tremendous void.

There is something about losing someone close to you that has a way of making it seem as though it just happened.  Though the pain fades with time, the emptiness never goes away.  Certain events and dates can trigger the pain of loss to come rushing back.  For me, the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing has done just that, but it’s certainly not the only thing.

My little one still has no idea what happened.  She likes to look at a picture of Bubby wearing a crown at what turned out to be her final birthday celebration.  She talks about Bubby’s birthday, the crown and the cake with so much enthusiasm.  Inevitably, she’ll ask when we are going to visit Bubby.  I do my best to answer, but usually try and change the subject because she cannot grasp the reality of the situation.  The blissful ignorance of a young child is something that I am envious of at times.

If I were in still in New York, I would visit Bubby today, but not in the way that my daughter envisions.  Unfortunately, I cannot visit her on the anniversary of her passing, but I’ll be there in spirit.  When we come back to New York, one of my first stops will be to visit my grandmother and my father.  I’ll bring the kids so that they can pay their respects, even if it means having my little one laughing and playing near their graves, which would undoubtedly bring them both more joy than having any of us standing there in despair.

So much has happened in my life over the past year, but somehow, one year later, my grandmother’s passing feels like it just happened yesterday.

  1. Sorry for your loss Adam. Your words….very nicely done. I too have days and memories like this. Life is the greatest gift of all.

  2. THey are with you always. And remember if you find a penny on the ground, that is from them, so bend down pick it up and say a little prayer. I do and it helps.

  3. Adam you’re in my thoughts….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: