We would sit, my grandmother and I, for hours. She would tuck my brave one in her chest, holding him so tightly, I was sure it was her heartbeat that lulled him to sleep. And I, I would sit with my legs tucked under me, my head resting on the chair back and sigh with a long overdue exhale. During the summer she would tell me to stretch my legs and get some sun and in the winter she would tell me to stoke the fire to a roar, I need not be cold. Time would pass as she shared her life’s stories and we would laugh about our adventures, but more often than not, we would simply sit in the comfort of quiet. Before too long I had two babies, and it was my little one lulled by the beat of her heart while my brave one chatted at our feet. During those visits she would say enjoy the sleepless nights and clinging children, it would all go by so fast. In the midst of her advice of “let him figure it out” or “allowing her to cry,” I would catch her smiling at me, as if amused with that with which I fretted. She would catch my gaze and whisper, “You will be fine.”
She did not mince words, I blinked and another year has quickly come to an end-the year I dreaded most. It was the year that marked my little one being gone longer than she lived. When she first died, I would lay awake, staring at the wall, wondering if I would always remember, as sharply as I did then, the smell of her hair, the slight tilt of her head that came with her smile, the sound of her voice calling to her brother or the force of which she would draw me into her hug. I was afraid all that which was so Catherine would be dulled over time and wondered how could I possibly breathe if memories of the one I knew before anyone else on this earth, the one who would laugh as she stretched her legs beside mine or who curled in beside me as the fire roared, dulled. In those days, time seemed to crawl and yet, I blinked and six years had passed and the year I dreaded most was staring me in the face and I had no other option than to stare back.
And what I learned in this year is that time moving quickly is not a cliché offered haphazardly by a mother who has experienced a lifetime of living to a mother with her first baby on her hip. The simple phrase is wisdom shared in a knowing that time, whatever that time may be, must be lived. There will be times of laughter and joy and there will be times of sadness and darkness. I think about this past year and the years that have passed since Catherine died. I have experienced joy in ways I could not have thought possible and been afforded graces of which I am not worthy. I have cried myself to the point of exhaustion and begged for the storms to break. In time and in the seasons that time brings, I know now with unshakable certainty, a dawn will always break through the longest night and that which is loved beyond comprehension can not be dulled. I will always remember the smell of my little one’s hair and the sound of her voice calling out to her brother. I will always remember the exact tilt of her head as she smiled and how her arms felt when they pulled me in.
These days, I find myself often thinking of my grandmother, of her beauty, the lines of wisdom and grace etched on her face, the way her love for me reflected in the smile of her eyes. And now I know in living the moments that pass all too quickly and trusting they serve a distinct purpose I may not yet understand, her simple advice- the very advice whispered as she held my sleeping babies and in the days after Catherine died is truth and wisdom: I will be fine, just fine.