Today, while cleaning out my inbox, I found an email entitled “Cheryl”. It read: “Good Morning to all, This morning at 7:25 AM Cheryl took her last breath. She went very peacefully.” The date was November 21st, 2011.
I’ve been putting off writing this for a while, although it has been stirring and waiting to surface. After my Grandma died, my aunts went through all her jewelry (she loved her accessories and had great taste). They divided it up into little plastic baggies for each of the women in the family. Mine had several gold hoop earrings, a bumble bee pin, a couple of pendents, pearl studs, and a lovely pearl necklace they suggested I wear on my wedding day.
For a few weeks I didn’t have the courage to wear any of them. I took them out of the bag, arranged them, thought of times when I thought I remembered Grandma wearing them, and then returned them to their plastic home.
In December I went wedding dress shopping, and out came the pearl necklace to grace my neck. I wanted to make sure my dress matched it perfectly, so Grandma could still be a part of my big day.
Finally, I had the courage to try out the earrings still hiding in the little bag. I wore the pearl studs once, then again, then again, and finally they became my “go-to” earrings. I have many earrings, from exotic and adventures places, but these little pearls brought me comfort. It was easy to slip them into my ears, and feel an added sense of presence. Some days I would remember Grandma, and some days I would just wear them and live.
I’m wearing them right now. As my special day draws closer, I can feel the excitement building. But there is also this silent ache, in the back of my heart – I wish my Grandma could be there. I wish cancer and suffering and painful endings didn’t exist.
The other night, before drifting off to sleep, I walked through beautiful memories of Grandma. That mischievous smile she had. Her strong and compassionate leadership. Snuggling on the couch with her, just months before she died. And the last time I saw her living – telling her I was engaged. She was so happy for us.
I miss her. I wish she could be here, delighting in our planning and watching me walk down the aisle.
Even so, I carry a little piece of her with me. Her tiny white pearls remind me of her wisdom and help me keep her gentle touch present in my heart.