July 29, 2021. A date that I will never forget. A moment that I didn’t think would ever arrive. On July 29, 2021, at 2:25 pm, I received a call from my Mom. “Tiff, Grandma just passed away. Me, Raye, and Donette were with her. She’s no longer in pain. It was a beautiful moment.” That’s what I remember from the conversation. In my heart, I felt like she would pull through once again in true Margaret style. However, my head knew the truth of the situation. I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to tell Phoenyx. All week she had been asking the question, “Great-Grandma’s going to be there when we get there, right?” All I could answer was, “I don’t know, Sweets, I hope so.” I looked her in the eyes, “Baby, Great-Grandma passed away.” She ran straight to her room, climbed in bed, and pulled the covers over her. We cried together. We shared the weight of the loss.
I spoke to my husband. They shared a special February baby connection. Soon after, I sent text messages to my tribe: My grandma passed away. I am grateful for the texts and calls that immediately came pouring in. Although I couldn’t answer the phone, it meant the world to me to feel supported when I needed it so profoundly and hear the care and concern in each voicemail. I am thankful to have so much love in my life.
I went into overdrive preparing for the trip to Ohio. I found myself speeding through packing, cleaning, and trying to do multiple things at once. I was standing in my kitchen, and I heard her voice. It was loud and clear: “Take your time.” It was the reminder that I needed for so many reasons.
We drove to Ohio the following day.
I didn’t go to my grandma’s house right away. I wasn’t ready to accept the reality of it all. I brought pizza and bagels from New York to give to my family because— comfort. I alerted everyone that the carbs had arrived. Then, I settled in at my Mom’s.
I took my aunt’s bagels and pizza down to her at my grandma’s house in the morning. I pulled up, parked. In my head, I knew that this reckoning would come. Facing the actuality. I walked in. There was a stillness. It was quiet. I gave my aunt the food and headed into my grandma’s room. I see her bed impeccably made. And she wasn’t in it. She’s not here. That’s what my heart spoke. I was overwhelmed with grief. The space was empty and full all at the same time. How could this be? How could she not be here? She’s always been here. My constant. My go-to.
I have seen the quote shared, “’My grandmother taught me everything, except how to live without her.” But I can’t say that’s true for me. My grandmother was intentional and aware of life’s fragility as well as its fullness. Her example was a force. She equipped me with the tools and wisdom to live without her. I just don’t want to.
I want to call her and tell her that Phoenyx had a great first week of school. I want to explain how she bounces out of the school doors full of joy each day. That her teacher seems to be a good fit, and she has great kids in her class. I would have called her the day some creeper stopped me from going on my morning walk, and I would have said to her that I’m glad that I trusted my gut. “Stay on your p’s and q’s.”, she would have said. And I would have replied, “Yep, I am Grandma.” I want to tell her that I’m proud of the work that I’m doing at my job. I want to tell her how I’ve been sticking to new diet changes and feel so much better. I want to hear her remind me of the importance of taking B-12. I want to ask her what she’s eaten for the day. I want to talk to her about Jeopardy and the host situation. I want to listen to one of her stories. I just want to hear her say, “Tiffy.”
Grief is a never-ending journey. The tears come in waves. Some days are better than others. I feel her presence and cling to her guidance. At my grandma’s funeral, although I felt indescribable pain, I felt immense pride. She was thoughtful, caring and has left the sweetest, strongest legacy of love for us to continue.
“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.”
– Maya Angelou
I think of her every day. I have renewed motivation that propels me to new heights. I am walking in my purpose on purpose. I get how fleeting life is even when you are blessed to live 95 ½ years. The quote below has become one of my daily inspirations because it reminds me of my grandma:
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman
Here’s to living the fullness of life and making a mark that no one can erase.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.