grief is just love that has no place to go


i’m thinking about my grandma today.

actually, i’ve been thinking about her a lot the last few months.

see, this year, it will be ten years since she passed and it seems like both the longest time and the shortest time since i last got to tell her that i love her and most importantly, that i was sorry.

my grandmother and i weren’t on the best of terms when she passed. she was being stubborn and frustrating and i was being a bratty 22 year old who wanted to help in so many ways but also wanted to not feel obligated in doing so.

when she got sick, i told myself that there’d be time. that i’d be able to apologize and that she would tsk and shake her head and call me “stephie” and it would be fine.

but that’s the thing: you never know for certain that there’s going to be more time and in this case, all i was left with was a broken heart and so much regret.

i love (not loved, because i haven’t stopped) my grandma. she was very much a pillar in my life and shaped a lot of who i am today.

we used to play scrabble on the weekends, and even though i tried my best, i could never quite beat her even if she tried to help me get the best words and the most points.

i remember one time, i was riding this little banana seat bike she’d bought for us grandkids and she was outside tending her plants (geraniums or lambs ear or some other plants that have been lost to the haze of years) and for whatever reason, she decided that she was going to try and ride this bike.

needless to say, it didn’t work out well. i don’t even think she made it a full rotation of the pedals before she tipped over and landed sideways in the grass. i don’t think we ever laughed so hard.

another time, i had stayed over night like i did so many times before, but this was different because this was my birthday and that meant i deserved to wake up to the most special things. i don’t remember what she made me for breakfast (probably pancakes and eggs), but one thing i do recall is that she had somehow managed to hang a crummy little handmade “happy birthday!” banner over the couch i was sleeping on, all because i said that that was one thing i really wanted.

i miss those days.

i miss sitting with her in the mornings, discussing dumb little things or what we decided was important in that moment or how her favorite baseball team was faring.

i miss listening to her slurp her morning “cappa-chino”, even though it drove me nuts at the time.

mostly, i just miss sitting in her calming presence.

when i was with my grandma, it felt like whatever else was going wrong in the world or in my life at the moment didn’t matter and wasn’t as horrible as i was making it out to be.

i suppose i miss that safety, because i haven’t really been able to find it in quite the same way since.

hold onto your loved ones, friends. the gaping hole they leave behind never quite scabs over and it will catch you unaware and leave you sobbing and in pain when you least expect it. the best we can do in those moments is honor our feelings, honor our loved ones, and maybe, a little bit, live in a way that makes them proud.

at the end of it, i just hope that wherever my grammy is, she knows three things:

i love her. i miss her. i’m sorry.

i think she knows. i hope one day she’ll find a way to let me know. until then, i suppose i will just have to learn how to be content in the knowledge that she’s not suffering and she’s at peace.

that’s worth something too.

to those of you who still have your grandmothers, do me a favor and hug them extra hard today. give them a call. ask them about their day. tell them you love them and that they mean the world to you.

for me.



christmases are really hard

life, Magic

i don’t think i’ve had a proper christmas since the year i stood in front of my mother, pleading with her that she get up off her chair and help me set up the christmas tree on christmas eve.

she never did.

she wouldn’t even look at me, asking if it was so wrong of her to want her children with her for christmas, like i wasn’t even there.

my brother had declined to come home, and somehow, my being home instead wasn’t good enough or even considered any sort of reason for festivities and yuletide fun at all.

she didn’t budge and my dad and i, dejected but trudging along because what else could we do?, made the best of it, just the two of us, putting up the tree and making dinner.

fast forward a few years and my parents are now divorced and i’m not a teenager begging for my mother to love me anymore, but seeing happy families with their perfect trees and their trauma-free yule time celebrations is just… really bittersweet.

i know it’s not the tree itself that’s important. the tree is inconsequential. nor is the fact that i don’t have any ornaments.

i don’t even know if i want a christmas tree and i’m actually feeling quite stupid for feeling so upset over such a dumb thing, but i told myself a while back that i would learn to sit and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

i guess this is a part of that.

anyway, christmases may be hard, but i do try to remember that there are good things as well as bad and that bad things don’t last forever, even if the hurts tend to.

maybe tomorrow i’ll go out and pick out a tree and decorate it as ridiculously as i can with what i have on hand.

wouldn’t that be fun?


of grandmothers, magic, and bittersweet memories

life, Recipes

it’s been nine years to the day since my grandmother passed away and while there were many, many things that were very dear to me about her, her love of cooking for her family is probably among my favorites.

there is nothing on this earth or in the universe beyond that would convince me that my grandmother was anything short of magic.

she probably wouldn’t be too amused by the notion (as devout in her christian faith as she was) but i don’t think that makes it any less true.

i grew up learning how to cook and bake at her hip, watched her make and participated in making all of her recipes, but to this day, all the best ones will not be replicated.

we have her handwritten recipes (complete with additions and notes and little fixes) and multiple people have attempted to recreate them (some of them to point of tears).

none of us have been successful.

our brownies are gluey and flat, our cookies are crunchy, and our fried chicken won’t crackle.

it’s as maddening as it is hilarious in a “neener, neener!” kind of way.

so, magic.

it’s the only explanation i’m willing to accept.

i miss my grandmother more than i can even begin to put into words. there is a hole in my heart where she sat that still hurts and grieves, but through her recipes and my failures, sometimes, it hurts a little less.

i love you, grammy.

thank you for still making me laugh.

xx steph