When my mom died in 1998, I was devastated. All the wonderful reasons we were so close (I was an only child, she was a stay-at-home mom) felt like cruel reminders of a happier time. My mom had been the center of my world for 19 years and suddenly, she was gone.
As I was a dramatic, sheltered teenager, I thought no one could understand my pain, much less surpass the grief that I felt. Of course other people mourned with me but the person who couldn’t move on was Grandma S., my mom’s mom.
During my childhood, Grandma S. was always paranoid that something would happen to one of her children or grandchildren. My mom said it was because Grandma S.'s first child, Junior, had passed away from sudden infant death syndrome. It was one of those things that was really sad but just completely unimaginable to 10-year-old me.
After my mom’s passing, I knew that in order to live a happy, full life, I’d have to control my grief, not let it control me. That’s what my mom would have wanted. I forced myself to be strong and carry on because what was the alternative?
The alternative was Grandma S. She never fully got back up after life knocked her down a second time, taking another child away from her. She turned to religion, to wine, to solitude, but nothing could ever fill the daughter-shaped hole my mom left in her heart. In her mind, death was a reward that ever eluded her.
The sadness eventually turned to vitriol towards mostly everyone around her except for me. I got a pass because I was my mother’s daughter. Throughout the years, her negativity and pain permeated every facet of her life as she pushed those who loved her away.
Grandma S. showed no interest in most things other grandmas love like graduations, weddings, and babies. She just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t mind so much because as an introvert, I resent forced social obligations. But others in the family felt hurt or neglected and no one could blame them.
My mother's mom spent the last years of her life in an assisted living facility. At that point, she didn’t even want to see me. She didn’t want to meet my daughter, the daughter with the same middle name as her. And though we didn’t get to say goodbye, I take comfort in knowing that she got her reward and can finally rest in peace.