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Vanilla Icecream & Lessons in Loss

Today is the five year anniversary of when I lost one of my favorite people in the world, my grandma. I've been thinking about the day for weeks now, holding my breath for the grief to sneak up on me. So much has happened since her death that it almost feels crazy that it has only been five years. In some ways it feels like a lifetime. I have two children that never even met her, and that doesn't seem right or make sense to me. In other ways, it feels like yesterday and I still get the random urge to dial her number or drive to her house.

I can recall almost every memory from the day she was diagnosed with cancer until the day of her funeral. I can vividly recall these memories. The phone call as I was in the waiting room of my own doctor's appointment and crying both tears of fear and joy as I heard Eden's heartbeat for the first time. I remember waiting for her to get home from that appointment and holding her tight. I remember all the visits from all the many people that loved her. The day we shaved her hair. Sitting beside her at chemo, finding out the chemo wasn't working, our last trip to The Freeze to get icecream, her last pedicure, our last text, her last words, the last day. I remember trying to memorize the freckles on her arm at her funeral. I remember the songs that played on the radio after her funeral. I remember it all.

In the five years since she has been gone, I have replayed those memories thousands of times in my head. I used to sit and comb through the memories trying to pick up on clues I should have picked up on that maybe could've saved her if I had just realized it. Then after it sunk in that there was no saving her, I used to replay all the memories to hold on to them longer, afraid that if I didn't, I would forget. Every memory brought it's own unique sting of grief of what I no longer had.

I've been numb, sad, angry, and lost so much in the years since her death. Even though the waves of grief have come less often, it still brings one of those feelings every time it comes.

Until now.

I've been waiting for this day, because even though I know the grief comes less often as it one did, I know it will always will come on the anniversary of her death. But it didn't today. I feel pretty confident in saying that it won't tomorrow... and it might not ever come again. At least in the way that I once knew it.

Today it comes in the form of Breyer's Natural Vanilla icecream in a glass bowl. A tiny glass bowl so that every time you take a bite, you hear the clink of the spoon hitting the side. My love for icecream started because of my grandma, and anyone that knows me knows that I love icecream. I would sit in my grandma's living room, eating icecream with her and watching TV. Except that I would never be watching the TV because all I could pay attention to is the sound of her spoon hitting the side of her bowl. Even after all of the icecream was gone out of the bowl, she would still scrape the bottom of the bowl to get every last piece. It would drive me nuts and I would often wonder why she wouldn't just make another bowl if she was that desperate for another bite. That memory now makes me smile. It feels good to remember her today by having a bowl of icecream. I'm not combing through every memory of her, missing what is no longer mine. I'm sitting her grateful for all the time I did have. I am thankful for all the time we spent together, all the lessons she taught me, all the love we had for each other, and all the bowls of icecream eaten together.

It is weird to write about this side of grief, especially since I am currently back at the beginning of a new grief with Nichole right now. I see both sides of grief at the same time today. I know that Nichole's death is very different than my grandma's and I don't think that there will ever be a time that I could accurately compare the loss of my 75 year old grandma and Nichole, who had so much time and love still left in her. But today I have a new type of hope that I have never had before. Maybe one day, we/you/me won't have to replay every memory, focusing on all that was lost because you will be so consumed with what was gained by having that person in your life.

I lost my grandma five years ago today, but because of her I have a lot of lessons in advice giving, a desire to always rock my kids like she rocked me, 28 years of memories, a lifetime of hugs, and an absolute love for vanilla cream.

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