I lost my grandmother on July 27th, just six weeks ago. She is last the biological grandparent I had still living and I was very close to her. She died within the very same hour I hit the Publish button on Amazon for my first book. I was in a race against time to get it finished before she passed. (Which is why there were still a few typos, now corrected; the cover wasn't exactly what I wanted, everyone else received their book before I did, because I left immediately for her funeral.) But all I wanted was to fulfill my dream knowing I finally finished a book. I accepted that she would never get to read it, I just wanted her to know that I accomplished it. A goal I'd been striving for nearly two decades, since I've started five books and never finished one until now.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of May, so we knew she had a limited amount of time left. My daughter and I flew to Tennessee in June for our final visit with her to say good-bye. I was so grateful for that time with her. More importantly, I was so grateful that my daughter got to spend the time with her in June and got to experience my roots in Tennessee.
My daughter was born a preemie at just 28 weeks and three days and only 2.8 pounds on December 15th, 2013. She was due on March 7th (which would have been the one year anniversary of my grandpa's death.) My grandmother (along with my Dad) flew out to see her in the NICU that Christmas when she was just two weeks old. I tease that she came too early because I was watching too many Hallmark Christmas Movies and she wanted to be here for Christmas. Yes, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in the NICU with our daughter hooked up to the incubator, oxygen tanks, and respirator. I found out the true meaning of a Christmas Miracle that year. That was the last plane trip my grandmother ever took, and I'm so grateful.
In June, my grandmother knew I was struggling internally with not being happy in my career path. The last good conversation I had with her on the phone, I wanted to tell her that I was going to finally be happy. I had given my notice at my job a few days prior. But I also didn't want her to stress, because I wasn't entirely sure what the next chapter would entail. I'm still trying to figure it out. But as I was editing my book, I saw the same person I was six years still battling with not being happy in my career. I had achieved my goal of lasting five years to get vested in the state PERS system, but I was dying on the inside. I was a tired working mom, prediabetic, feeling the fire ignite in me again to do something more fulfilling with my life, and to give my daughter the better hours of my day before she starts kindergarten. I also couldn't publish that book with those same struggles of not being true to myself. It was eating at me. So for the past month and half I've been relaxed and a better mother. Spending time taking her to the park, going to all the karate classes I missed out on, going to the library, and trying to figure out what is next.
I wanted to tell my grandma that I was making changes to be true to myself and my daughter, but I knew it wouldn't matter, she would just know. I didn't want to cause her any more stress or worry, so I just told her how much she meant to me.
My husband drove my daughter and I to Tennessee for her funeral and it was one of the most touching things he's ever done for me (three days there and three days back). We don't have a big marriage presence on social media, because we keep that side private, and I will be honest: marriage is tough.
The past few years of my life have turned out so non-traditional. Back when I was blogging for those who knew me back then, knew how happy and cheerful I was trying to portray everything. (But if you read the book, you will discover I had my own struggles back then too.)
I would have loved to continue blogging through my first home (a cute Cape Cod we fixed up), but I found out I was pregnant within the month of buying the house. I was sick and tired and I was unsure if we would even stay together. We were not married then. Life was not easy. As much as I wanted to live the perfect blog life, it was not in the cards for me.
I knew my grandmother's life was not easy either. There were so many things I wanted to ask her in June as I sat on her couch after my daughter went to bed, but I let it go. I decided there were some things she probably thought I didn't need to know. I asked her if she ever regretted anything, or wished if she would have done anything differently. She knew I was in dire need of answers and guidance for my own life. She told me that although things were not always perfect, she wouldn't have done anything differently.
Many people have asked me about the next book and what I've been up to since the ending of my book, and yes I have part two half completed, which would cover much of my journey mentioned above. I'm still deciding... it's still very personal. But I also have a couple of fiction books in the works too. I'll keep you posted.
Thanks for hearing me out.
So on this Grandparent's Day, CHERISH THEM!
I know I'm still wondering how I'm going to get through the rest of my life
without ever seeing or talking to her again...
'Running Away to Europe' can be found on Amazon.
'Running Away to Europe' can be found on Amazon.