“My Grandma died.”


I love this photo. I was flipping through the pictures on my phone last night and noticed it. Then I realized it’s from the Last Outing with Grandma, when we went to the Ritz for afternoon tea.

That was February 7. She died two weeks later. Now it’s almost April. It hasn’t been long, not at all. I check the mail, and dread giving Ray the condolence card or two that are still coming almost every day. Sometimes he’ll rip a card open right away, but usually it sits around for days.

The other night my father in law came over for dinner. He stayed for hours. Her name never came up.

There was no service, memorial, no obituary. We’re still talking about planting a tree, just the four of us. I want to do some research, to make sure it won’t die. But we need to do it soon, before it gets too hot.

I don’t know how the girls will react to the tree planting. I haven’t heard Annabelle mention Grandma in weeks, though I know my mom got her to talk about her a while ago. I’ve tried. Nothing.

Sophie, on the other hand, loves to talk about Grandma. Which, in this climate, makes things awkward, and beyond our house, a little embarrassing.

The other night we we were at a dinner party with a few families we knew and a few we didn’t. I introduced Sophie to a younger, kidless guy I know only vaguely. He’d never met Sophie. 

Amy: “Sophie, this is Aaron.”

Aaron: “Hi Sophie!”

Sophie: “My grandma died.”

Ms. X reports that Sophie’s talking more and more about Grandma. I know some of it is for shock value, and some of it is simply because it’s a conversation topic and Sophie’s always looking for conversation topics — ways in on the game or the joke or even just the chat.

Last week she stopped Annabelle in the hallway and practically yelled, out of the blue, “Grandma died!” She didn’t get what she was looking for. Annabelle gave her sister a dirty look and walked away.

I do think that maybe it’s starting to sink in — for Sophie, at least. (The rest of us, the less healthy members of the household, not so much.) The other night Sophie woke up sobbing and I picked her and asked if she’d had a bad dream. Yes, she told me. About Grandma.

“Grandma died,” Sophie said a couple days ago, as I helped her get dressed. “I miss her.”

The second part was new. I know, I told her, I miss Grandma too, and I gave her a hug. We talked about the things we loved about Grandma — that she always had chocolate at her house, that she loved to play. Sophie pointed to herself. “Yes,” I told her. “She loved Sophie so much!”

Pretty soon — way too soon, by our society’s standards — Sophie was giggling like mad.

I was a little jealous.



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4 responses to ““My Grandma died.”

  1. Oh this breaks my heart.
    But it sounds like Sophie is definitely getting it. Have you read her any children’s books about death?
    The pace of this piece reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books that also hapens to be about death: It’s called The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst. Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you read it. I am tearing up just typing the title.

  2. latishaspring

    if only we could capture their honesty for feeling everything in its moment.

  3. You know, my grandma died 1 year and 3 months ago. I still miss her every day. I understand.

    It pops up in the weirdest ways, the memories.

  4. It takes a small, warm heart to open up others doesn’t it? I know what you mean about the joining in with conversation…. I always can count on my daughter to raise her hand if anyone asks for volunteers or feedback in a crowd. And then I never quite know what she will say… like talking about her sister, Sissie- who doesn’t exist! A wonderful post today, thanks.

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