When a loved one passes away we feel helpless as expats. We aren't there to help friends and family, and we feel guilty that we didn't see the person as much these past years because we've been away. In this case my mom said to wait and come back at Christmas, which will also be a tough time this year. And I agree and understand. My being there now wouldn't make my grandma come back and she knows I loved her. Of course I tell myself I could have called a bit more often, or emailed more. We saw each other on Skype and spoke on holidays and she got to see her great-granddaughter Juliette three times in these last five years (check out this video from when they were together in 2009).
So I've been calling daily to see how my family is holding up and somehow it makes things a little better. But being far from the events makes it harder for me to truly realize she's gone. I don't have the same closure as the others.
Instead I lit a candle in the church near my apartment and Juliette and I sat in a little chapel where I quietly read her a book we'd found at the library about a girl who misses her grandma. It's been hard for a five-year old to process all this and why her mom is weepy. She goes from asking me where grandma is and then telling me she wants to go to heaven and see her or saying she never wants to die. It's heavy stuff at that age and I try my best to explain without scaring her. Her little arms around my neck are a comfort.
So today I'll think about what a spunky, cute little grandma she was. And how I hugged her tight the last time I left the US, thinking a little too pragmatically that it might well be the last time. Unfortunately that came true but I know we made some great memories together.
|With Juliette in the summer of 2009.|