I have been missing my grandma for over a year. July marked the anniversary of her passing. I think of her every day. This milestone on the grief journey did not stand out; it simply gave me pause and reflection. I think writing these words stirs more emotion than the date on the calendar. I could list all the things I miss about her, but I smile when I think of every reminder I have received, proving that she’s still here.

Whether it’s seeing a feather along the path of my daily walk, (it’s been said that the feather is a symbol of acknowledgment that someone or something in the spirit world is looking out for you, keeping you safe, and empowering you on whatever path you set upon). Or when my grandma came to me in a dream with a message I needed when I was questioning myself. Then this one day, as I was walking into my house feeling a little defeated after something didn’t work out the way I was hoping, I said to myself— out loud, “Don’t give up, Tiff.” It was my voice with her spirit propelling it. I am grateful for awareness and calm. These moments open my heart and broaden my horizons. I believe that legacy isn’t only left within a list of accolades but also in those inspirational deposits we make to the hearts and minds of those around us. It’s in love we pour into family and friends. And those we meet in the sweet, rare circumstances that leave a mark. 

I used to call my grandma for everything. I mean EV-ER-y thing. : ) I now know; it wasn’t ever for advice, really. I called her because she saw me. She saw my dreams. She saw my needs. She saw my wants. She saw my stress. She saw my joy. She saw my flaws. She saw my greatness. She saw my heart. And she never tried to change me. She just loved me. 

My grandma would ask me from time to time, “Are you happy?”. Today I would respond:

Great question, Grandma. I am happy. I choose my happiness daily and find freedom knowing it’s my responsibility. I no longer put it in the hands of others. This year, I have loved and lost and found and remained. I have protected my peace with care. I have considered myself more than ever, and it’s opened up beautiful possibilities. I’ve stumbled and cried and kept my head up. I held hands with truth and spilled out honesty. I have been vulnerable and created space for others to do the same. I’ve accepted people as they are and, in turn, placed them where they are to be in my life. I have bet on myself and stepped out on faith. I have made choices that reflect the future that I want. I’ve been having fun with my hair and clothes and lip gloss. I’m smiling and laughing more. I’m real comfortable in my skin and feel very liberated. To quote a Beyoncé song, “I’m Cozy.” ; ) Yes, Grandma, I’m happy.

My grandmother is unforgettable. A force. Best friend. Trusted confidant. Storyteller. Artist. And her laugh, the cutest thing. I miss her tremendously and am thankful for her continued love and motivation that find me when I need it most.

“And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.” – Maya Angelou 


Tiffany Reneé

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