My grandma passed away two days before Christmas.
She was my last living grandparent. She taught me to knit, to bake, to love old musicals & baseball, and gave me one week every summer in which I was the only priority. She came to every piano recital, every choir concert, and every birthday party. She made literally hundreds of cookies for Christmas every year, and relished having the entire family over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. She certainly had her flaws, but as a grandma she was pretty much amazing.
For the last ten years or so, she had no idea who I was, who any of her grandchildren were, and when she recognized my mother, it was only as the woman who took care of her. After a stroke several years ago, her memory deteriorated even more, and she was scared, anxious and sad all the time. I’ve been praying for years for her to be released from that particular hell, and now her passing has hit me much harder than I expected.
But I also have comfort that not everyone is able to access on their own.
Shortly after she passed, around 6:15 am, my mom called to tell me. After we hung up, I rolled over, wondering how I would get back to sleep. Grandma showed up near the foot of my bed and started singing. She sang the lullaby that her mother had sung to her, she sang to my mom, and both she and my mom sang to me when I was little. I can never remember the words (I tried to sing it to my fussy baby cousin and ended up singing “la la la” and making up words), but there they all were, in grandma’s familiar voice.
I really wish I could say I was lulled back to sleep, because that would be poetic and beautiful. I wasn’t. I was comforted. I was glad to see her as I remember her, and not as she looked in the memory care unit. I was glad to hear her voice for the first time in years. I was glad to see her at peace. And after a while longer, I rolled out of bed, took a shower, and baked her Christmas cookies.
Being a medium changes grief. It doesn’t erase it – there is always comfort in having those we love physically present with us on this plane. When they pass, grief comes because I miss the physical contact, seeing a solid human form, and hearing a voice outside of my head. I grieve the relationship as it was.
But there is also comfort in knowing, not just hoping or believing, but truly knowing she is okay – at peace, no more pain, no more fear or confusion. There is comfort in be able to see that she recognizes me, remembers the time we spent together when I was young, and loves me.