As I climbed in the car to drive home from Washington, DC, my husband called. His mother had very unexpectedly passed away. And after my shock gave way, I cried nearly the whole drive home, knowing that we were going to have to explain to our 4 year old little girl that her Grandma, whom she adored, was gone forever. By “adored,” I don’t just mean “she loved Grandma.” I mean Grandma is literally her absolute favorite person in the whole wide world. She wakes up every morning and begs to go to Grandma’s house. This girl loves Grandma. And Grandma loves her back. She’s got her own bed and own toys and own everything at Grandma’s house. Grandma doesn’t just babysit, Grandma calls us and says “I want that baby for the weekend.” They are absolutely the best of friends.
My relationship with my mother in law was a complicated one, but we had reached such a good place in the last year or two. We weren’t the type to really be buddy buddy, but we did spend time together sometimes, and enjoyed splitting the cooking duties for the various holidays. She liked reading this blog. When I hopped on her computer yesterday to share the funeral information on her facebook account, it was touching to see that she had a link to this page right on her desktop. Most of all, we had gotten to such a good place with respect to my little girl. Grandma spoiled her, absolutely spoiled her, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but I was OK with them spending weekends together, without the watchful eye of mama, and they could eat all the cookies and paint their nails and go to Chuck E Cheese, and revel in their own little rebellions.
It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been a hard week. Baby Beez kind of understands what’s going on. She’s been informing lots of shop clerks and random strangers that “My Grandma died,” which is very awkward. We’ve had lots of advice and support and followed all of it, but it is still hard. Mr. Beez and his dad have the heartbreak of worrying over Baby Beez’ grief, with the crushing load of losing their mother and wife on top of that. We’ve all had to confront an emptiness that we did not expect and were not equipped for.
Baby Beez is four. Everyone keeps telling me she will remember her Grandma. I think she will. But I’m afraid her appreciation for the depth of their relationship will fade over time. It breaks me up, thinking Grandma might just be someone in smiling photos. I want her to remember how much she loved her Grandma. How for her, Grandma could make absolutely everything OK (especially when mean mom told her she had to eat all the healthy food before she could have cookies). I didn’t see Grandma as competition or some kind of cheat to the everyday rules. She was Baby Beez’ escape to 24/7 FUN. I was so glad they had that together.
Tomorrow is the viewing and Thursday the funeral. If you know my husband, please give him a hug or send him an email. He needs that love right now.