Nana Mela

It never gets easier, does it? I have learned over the past year and a half or so that death is almost as imminent as it is inevitable, as confusing as it is heartbreaking, and as beautiful as it is tragic. My Nana Mela’s death has demonstrated all of this to me and more. True friendship has the ability to defy age, and this can be proven by the fact that, at our respective ages of 19 and 93, my Nana and I were the best of gal pals. We watched Lifetime movies together, ate plenty of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and honestly talked about life and love. Her presence in my life was constant and invincible: she lived right down the street, we had dinner with her often, I spent countless late nights with her. It was like she was never going anywhere– she’d always be in her big, comfy chair. Even when sickness tried to take her, she came right back to us like a boomerang. She was a pistol, one of the sharpest pencils in the drawer, and as witty as could be. And, from playing cards and bunco to her never-ending phone calls, she had a better social life than I did. She was loved so dearly by friends and family, and I know we all will miss her and cherish our memories with her. 

 I have come to truly believe that there is as much purpose in our deaths as there is in our lives. We constantly strive to find our purpose in this world and give it meaning, but I think we forget about the power and impact of our death. In her death, my Nana has left us with a beautiful example of gratitude and happiness, lessons in compassion and love, and an appreciation for humor and “rocka roa” (rocky road candy, from See’s, of course). Not only has she taught and shown us this much, but she has also blessed us with memories and stories that we will have forever. They say that grandmothers are like cupcakes with extra frosting, and that could not be more true of Nana, especially with the sweet tooth she had. 

Inside of a tiny book provided by Hospice care is the most captivating definition of death I have ever come across: a poem called “Gone From my Sight” by Henry Van Dyke: 

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When I first read this last Sunday, my first thoughts went straight to all of those “other voices” waiting at the opposite dock for Nana’s ship to come in. Her husband, sister, parents– all of these people who she missed and longed to be with again. It brings me so much peace, even though letting her sail away is heartbreaking, knowing that she is with these people again and has found a new home in the Kingdom of Heaven. Nana, I hope you’ve got all the other angels in stitches over your hilarious stories and witty remarks. I hope there’s a chair as comfy as the one in your living room for you to watch your shows in, next to Nano. I hope that you’re having a wonderful, long-anticipated reunion party with everyone who went before you. We will miss you terribly, but we will also continue to love you tremendously. Thank you for everything, I love you! 

 

 

Only Child Syndrome

 An old friend and I always joked about having only child syndrome. It would come up after an infamous “symptom” surfaced, like being annoyed with an overabundance of noise in the house. For reals, life as an only child is the life. You get your parents undivided attention, you always get shotgun, and you get essentially whatever you want. You never have to fight with a sibling or two over sharing the TV, or picking the vacation activities, or using the bathroom first. Honest to goodness, I never pondered my life as an only child in a deep way until a year or so ago. Why would I? It was so ideal.

But it’s also a double edged sword. On one hand, you get the independence and attention any child would want. On the other hand, though, this independence can get out of hand.

Again, I hadn’t given much critical thought as to how being an only child impacted my personality and habits. I always assumed that I was naturally gregarious because it was genetically transmitted from my mother to me (she is seriously the friendliest person I know). And I didn’t like to talk to people about my problems because I thought they wouldn’t want to hear them. It turned out to be a vicious cycle, one that I wish I had taken note of sooner.

This isn’t a dissertation about how lonely it is to be an only child. I definitely think that I do not have any siblings for a reason, that I was truly meant to be an only child and to grow from the experience. However, I can probably attribute some not so good habits to it. I have a tendency to not ask others for help. While I’ll sit and listen to anyone when they are having a bad day or need a shoulder to cry on, I have to wrestle with myself to do the same. I’ve grown so accustomed to dealing with things on my own that turning to others for help seems unnatural to me.

I also have a bond with my closest friends that transcends typical friendships. I see these people as my adopted siblings, and I would do anything for them. Having their trust and their acceptance alone are integral to my well-being. This has inadvertently  caused me to be extremely vigilant when meeting new people: I need their approval. It might sound kind of pathetic, but I feel so sad if I do not make a good first impression or find out someone doesn’t like me. Missing out on the opportunity to adopt another sibling is always disheartening.

Anywho, I hope this wasn’t depressing! I have noticed these only child syndrome symptoms a lot over the past few weeks, after meeting a slough of new people and receiving some not so good news.  I’ll have to go bake something and then write about it 😉