Thursday, March 22, 2012

To My Dearest Saint...What's it Like in Heaven? I made a shadow box out of your piano bench...

Well Gma-
You've been up there for a year now.

A year ago today mom called in the wee hours of the morning telling me to "hurry, it's bad".  I'll never forget that sinking feeling.  You probably don't have the same memories of that day and I'm relieved because I know you wouldn't have wanted to see us in pain-any more than we had to see you in yours.  I'm not sure what you recall about those last few days.  Mom and Heather never left your side and I saw you every morning on my way to the office, during lunch, and on my way home before softball practice.  Looking back, it's the worst roller-coaster ride I've ever been on.  One day you're walking down the halls of the "rehab" facility-laughing with us during lunch visits. And the next day, you were incoherent-not because of any fault of your own, but because they overdosed you with pain meds-had to treat you for it, and that sealed your fate... I prayed that God would take you because although my heart was shattered, you didn't deserve to go through all you did.  It didn't seem fair.  I kept asking why he would let someone feel so much pain.  Someone who hadn't hurt a single soul their whole time here on earth.  Someone who brought so much joy to those whose paths crossed theirs.  Someone who I refer to as "My Saint".  You passed away on a Tuesday early morning.  We were all with you.  The Friday before that we all had our chance to sit and watch basketball with you, laugh with you, and have you to ourselves one by one...I don't know if you remember or not, but we made promises to each other...When I asked you if you were ready to go, you said yes, soI made you promise me if God came to take you-you'd go and not try to stay for us.  In return, I promised you I'd be okay-I promised you I'd be there for mom and dad-I promised you I'd make sure everything was going to be alright.  You kept yours to me, and hopefully I've kept mine to you.

As I was lying restless in bed last night, I looked up to the moon-took a deep breath, and felt a sense of relief.  It's been a whole year.  Finally (well, except for the lump in my throat as I'm writing this) my heart doesn't feel physical pain.  I miss you more than I thought was imaginable, but I don't hurt anymore--I never thought I'd be able to say that.  BUT-I miss your voice, your advice, your jokes, your "Dateline NBC", Oprah, and Ellen recaps, your scent, and your beautiful smile.  I miss our Thursdays. I've not bought flowers for anyone this year, but I did send something to someone I met whose husband serves for us.  I have been slacking in our "pay it forward" project, but hopefully this year I'll do better.  I know you enjoyed that-oh how I miss our Thursdays...  And last night, while I wasn't physically hurting, there's still a hole in my heart.  I look at the kids and smile-I wonder what you'd say about them.  I can see in my head your expression-when they learn something new, or when I explore this crazy task of parenthood.  How proud of them you must be-I know you are, I just wish I could see it.  I think the most unfortunate part of all of this is the kids will only know you through stories we tell them.  They can't experience your gentle touch, or calming demeanor, or have the opportunity to truly see a heart of gold...They won't remember My Saint.  I can still remember the day Jordan was born, and how you refused to leave the hospital until she made her sweet little way into this crazy world.  I remember you ran out of oxygen, and were very short of breath, and starting to look bad...but when you held her...when you held my sweet little girl, your face lit-up and for that moment I saw you happier than I had for a while...I'll cherish that memory for the rest of my time on earth.

I read your letter often.  It helps.  I wish you would have included a life map or something.  The more I read it, the more satisfied I become.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but at first...I read it...and said, "that's it?!?!  That's all she wrote to me?!?"  But I understand it now.  It's taken almost a year.  Simple. Heartfelt. To the point. Honestly, there are no words you could have written that would have made me happy, because my heart was broken and unable to reflect on all of the beautiful lasting memories we made.  I'm a little more capable to enjoy those now.  Slowly, the images of your painful last few days are fading away.  I'm trying to help mom.  She's coming around slowly, but she's coming around.  And dad?  He hides it well....MOST of the time. There was no fighting!  Mom did a good job!  You'd have been so proud of her!  Heather is happy now.  I wish you could have seen her this way before you went home.  It's what you had always wanted for her....just to be happy.  And she is.  Slowly, the old Heather we knew and love is making her way back and it makes me so happy because I missed her.  We all did!  Oh Grandma, you would be so proud!  I hope you are enjoying all you left behind!  It wouldn't be- if you hadn't laid the groundwork-our family is built on the strongest foundation imaginable.  It's all because of you!

I'm sure you have noticed I have started a new hobby.  I had to do something other than softball because honestly, every memory of softball had you in it, and it was so painful!  I forgot how to enjoy it.  So, I started refinishing furniture...and blogging.  I know right?  Of all things?!?  It's your fault you know?  It all started with your piano bench.  You know....the one that sat on your vanity with the hole in the caning.  Mom had to tell numerous people it wasn't for sale but was just being used to hold some things for the garage sale.  She gave it to me because it was special to you.  She had no idea what it started.  Honestly, I had no clue either.  I just knew I wanted to fix it because it was yours, and you loved it.  I started out doing it for you.  You must have known I needed something to keep me busy-you must have known I needed something-you must have known this "new hobby" would nurture my shattered empty heart.  Initially, I just took a can of spray paint to the legs....I hated it.  So, out of despair-I started over.  Orange stripper.  I had never refinished anything.  I didn't even know where to begin...but somehow I figured it out.  All by myself! I When I was cleaning it up, I saw the most beautiful wood-more beautiful than any piece of furniture I'd ever seen.  I took my time.  Something in my letter kept running through my head...over....and....over.  "I hope you always remember how beautiful life is, you have a special heart for those around you".... and so I found the beauty in it.  A broken down old piano bench.  The most beautiful piano bench I'd ever seen.  So, I took that beautiful bench, stripped it, sanded it, stained it and made it as beautiful to other's eyes, as it was all along in mine.  I started out doing it for you-finished it for myself, and rediscovered myself in the process!  Tomorrow, for my readers, I'll detail the process.  But since this letter has already been long, I'll just show the before and after pictures.  I put all of "OUR" favorite things in there.  I know you'll just love it!

I miss you Grandma Booboo!  Please keep looking out for all of us.  I love you MORE!!!!
Your Ashiebutt

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  1. I hope I"m the one you were talking about up there... and Boo Boo did right by you which lead me to you and lovin you to pieces! What a GREAT letter and post!! I loved it!! I love it more because I have a grandfather who falls in BooBoo's same category although he is still with me, but fighting cancer. I am thinking of you and am so proud for how far you have come since she became your Saint!! I also have a grandmother I never met and I think of her as my Saint too! I'm thankful for your new hobby and that I have an ornament on my tree each year that screams I LOVE PITTSBURGH (even though Smiles is retiring).... and knowing it was a gift from you. XOXO girl!! miss you.

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