saying goodbye

On Valentine's Day my mom called. My grandmother -- Lily Mommy we called her, because she was everybody's Mommy -- was not doing well. She'd been in a nursing home since November. Now the nurses were saying it could be a matter of days. I insisted on booking a ticket, but then held off. Unsure what I'd be booking a ticket for. Finally, I flew home for a few days over spring break. I got off the plane and went to see her.

It was heartbreaking to see how she'd deteriorated. I'm still not entirely sure she recognized me. In December, when I'd seen her last, my mom told her that I'd come from Washington to see her. And she looked amazed that I'd traveled such a distance. She sort of understood it.

In March, she didn't even really speak. I held her hand, and stroked her hair, and kissed her on the forehead over and over. Then I said goodbye.

She let go of this world on Tuesday. At the funeral, I kissed her forehead again. But it felt strange and cold. I couldn't bear to touch her beautiful hands. She looked like she was asleep. Peacefully so. I whimpered, and said goodbye again. But she was already gone.

My mom asked me to speak at the funeral, but I just couldn't do it. It was too hard to stay composed. If I had, however, here's what I would have said:

I can never repay you for all you taught me: The importance of being a tough, independent woman. To never depend on anyone. To pursue whatever I wanted in life. To be unafraid in the face of challenges. To be graceful and ladylike -- though I may still struggle with that last one.

You were my Lily Mommy. As good as a mother to me. I'm grateful to have had you in my life for 28 years. And the world will forever benefit from the 89 years with which you graced your presence.

I love you. And I miss you so, so much.


on distinction and fresh fruit

Exhausted. Elated. Overwhelmed. And proud. Very very proud.

My thesis defense couldn't have gone before if I'd planted the questions in the audience myself (And NO, I did NOT!) It felt more like a conversation than a defense, which is what it's supposed to be anyway.

Then I stepped out of the room with the most wonderful friends (and boyfriend) a girl could ask for and waited. For about 5 minutes. Then Dr. Garcia called me back into the room and before I could even shut the door she said the words I really wasn't expecting to hear:

"Don't you want your friends in here too, to hear that you got distinction?"

I gasped. I stared. I grasped my stomach. Then I hugged her. I hugged Nelson, too, who I think was a little startled by that. But I digress. Their only recommendation to me? Get it published. So, that's project #2. After my brain comes back to life and I finish the remaining assignments for Nelson's class.

Vahan and I went out to celebrate at J. Paul's with oysters and beers. And that's when the exhaustion descended. Two beers later I just wanted to go home and go grocery shopping with the roommate. Now I have fresh produce and a master's degree earned with distinction.

It's a good day.