You slipped away quietly, almost as quietly as grandpa always did as he’d place a dollar bill under my pillow every time I lost a baby tooth.
Even though grandpa always tried to tiptoe out, I somehow knew his presence was there … just as I kind of felt you leaving. It all happened with the most subtle hints. It was as if I stood on this stage called life and just watched as you slowly got up from the crowd, and with tears in your eyes, you scurried down the aisle and out the door.
You didn’t look back; in fact,
you couldn’t look back at me,
and I couldn’t stop the show to shout for you to stop.
You were making your exit — this was it! As soon as I got up on the stage, you decided you’d make your finale. It was the beautiful unspoken truth: that we wouldn’t fight the fact that you were leaving, and I’d just somehow understand that the show must go on.
How could I close out twenty-three years of knowing you:
With a five-minute speech at the church?
With the touch of a rose to the casket?
Or with my tears hitting the soil as they lowered you?
How could I create a goodbye fit for a queen?
As I walked out of the cemetery, I tucked memories away in my heart. I attempted to hold onto to a hand that had now disappeared into the abyss — the same place the love of your life (grandpa) had gone two years ago as you stepped out for a nap and he quietly slipped away into to Louis Armstrong’s What A wonderful World. To think that, even in his slumber, he adored his sweet wife Louidell so much that he wouldn’t let you see his last moment on earth.
That was the type of woman you were,
the type that challenged us even in our roughest moments to do what was best;
the type that loved in such an unconditional and selfless manner;
the type that was always willing to learn about others,
and the type that lived to inspire everyone around her.
Months after you passed, I accidentally deleted your voicemail — the one that said, “Kayla, this is grandma. I was just calling to tell you that I want you to know to stay encouraged, stay focused, and keep God first in everything you do, I love you.”
In those thirty words, you were gracefully saying your goodbye. I pieced it together months later. Although at first, I often wondered why you wouldn’t return my calls for months before you passed away. The answer was because it was time, it was time for my hand to fall to my side as you let it go, and like the child that got lost in the mall in my thoughts I wandered around, only wanting to be found by you.
For twenty –three years I could
count on you,
call on you,
sit with you,
cry with you,
laugh with you,
fall in your arms
and get up thinking everything was okay.
You were my person — like Meredith was Grey’s. The difference is that Meredith simply moved out of the country, but you are somewhere that no phone call could ever reach.
That day in August when I left you…
I left you sitting in a chair in room 612
I left you that morning — a sunny morning — with a cup of tea and your nail polish still on the table, because everyone knew that nail polish parties was our thing.
I left you in your lively state with that smile and your hair pulled back — the hair you just never seemed to lose, no matter how old you got.
Your hand touched mine, as I hugged you and then planted the last kiss you’d ever feel from me on your cheek. You no longer were holding your little girl. You were letting me walk out, assured that I’d become the woman you had always believed in.
After that day, I made a choice to go back to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree, not knowing that my 4-foot 9″ superwoman would soon be ready to take flight into heaven. One thing I knew when I walked out that door that day was that I, myself, was taking flight aboard the plane you always prayed I’d catch. Making that decision for myself, gave me so much confidence because one of your deepest prayers was always to see me grow.
So, when the call came in that morning sharing the news I never wanted to hear, I knew, at the same time, that your prayers had been answered. In the midst of tears, I knew you believed in me more now than ever, and that you were assured that I was equipped for this mission.
Losing you stirred a fire in me and ignited a certain flame of growth that you always knew was there. Now, as I look up to the sky and think of you, all I can say in a soft whisper is, “Well Done”!