I have now lost two of the closest people in my life … almost thirteen years ago, I lost my Dad. Less than a month ago, I lost my Mimi. I am heartbroken, yet more resilient somehow.
My earliest memories all include Mimi. My mother and I are the closest of close, so naturally, as Mimi was her mother, Mimi and I were close, too. My entire childhood was spent with Mimi … every Saturday, the three of us girls would spend the day shopping, eating out, and laughing. She was at every dance recital, every cheering competition, every birthday celebration … she was in the hospital room when my oldest child was born, and was at the hospital moments after my second child arrived. She and my Mom have been through all my triumphs and all of my pains with me … they have been my rocks.
When I could see Mimi becoming frailer, it was agonizing. Seeing someone who has always been a pillar of strength becoming more and more physically weak is one of the hardest things … but my Mimi—she always had her inner strength and her dignity. She refused to give in to the physical weakness, and although she strictly adhered to what her doctors told her to do, Mimi had to be either in an enormous amount of pain or scared that something was really wrong before she would let my Mom take her to the hospital. Even then, her first thought was of how messy her hair looked … being proper at the proper time was very important to Mimi. My fondest memories, though, are of all the times she laughed so heartily at my children’s antics … and of how she let me know how proud she was of me and how I raise my kids, despite the fact that I have lived just about the most un-proper adult life possible.
The past year has been extraordinarily difficult—in every way imaginable. To the outside world, I am holding up. I raise my children well and I get up every day and do the right things. But I tend to feel as though I am dying inside … and I absolutely hate that. To me, that is weakness. I control my destiny … I control my world. I have finally come to understand that I cannot control anyone or anything other than myself, and I was relieved to find that that realization brought me a sense of comfort and, more importantly, a greater sense of power over my own life.
I find, though, that for every greater understanding I come to about life, an equally frustrating understanding comes. It’s almost as if I am forced to see that despite my tendency to view things as black or white, all or nothing, life is so much more than that. I do much better when things are clearly defined—then I know for sure what is expected of me, or of someone else, or of a situation. When expectations are clear, so too is the outcome—sense can be made of it. What happens, though, when you gain knowledge that you expect will lend toward a better understanding and instead, the more you know the less you understand?
In this past year, I’ve had to search deeper within myself than I truly knew existed. I was harshly thrown into the reality that sometimes the people you trust the most, who said they would never betray you, do the most unimaginably horrific things to you … things that make you question every part of life.
In this past year, I’ve lost my trust in the truth, my faith in the sanctity of marriage, and my Mimi.
When I think of her, I think of one of the strongest women I know—the only other woman who is equally as strong is my mother.
I cannot imagine what Mom is going through, having lost her mother. I ache for her, because I know how much she loved Mimi, and how dedicated she was to being the best daughter she could be. I worry that she is so strong that she may not allow herself to fully grieve the loss she has had. Mom has said that because Mimi’s health was declining for several years, her passing was not as traumatic as it could have been. Still, having been the one who found my Dad after he died unexpectedly, I ache, too, knowing that my Mom found Mimi, just barely conscious … apparently beginning her journey to whatever lies after this life. In some ways, I think perhaps we release those souls closest to us … and that they truly do wait to leave this life until they’ve said and done what they need to. Mimi spent her last day on Earth with three of her four girls… Mom and my two daughters. She’d seen my son just a week before she died, and I had seen her just the day before.
I know Mimi didn’t believe in an afterlife … but there have been several signs since her passing that let me know her spirit is still with me.
If I could ask Mimi if she thought I’d ever really be loved, if I’d find a man I could trust, I believe that because of the heartache she experienced, she would say no—that I only needed to trust myself, and the love of my children is the truest love there is … so pure, there is no need for any other love.
I also know that in the very next breath, Mimi would tell me that you just never know… it could happen. Despite the heartache she endured in her life, Mimi never gave up hope … she rarely even spoke of the pain she had been through. She chose, instead to love us, to laugh with us, to let us know how proud she was of us, to be thankful for all the good she’d been given.
Mimi was an amazing woman … I’m so very proud to be her granddaughter. I’m so very thankful that she raised my Mom as she did, because despite the heartache my Mom, too, has endured, she always gives me hope and has taught me from a very early age that I always have choices—that I control my life and the path it takes. Mimi and Mom have, by example, shown me that the only thing I have to truly understand is my own strength and how enduring and powerful that is.
Mimi is gone. She has left a legacy of love, laughter and strength. Her legacy does not make her passing any easier … but it reminds me of how thankful I am for the life I’ve been given, and that hope, too, endures.