Sep 14, 2009

What is gone is not lost

Even though today is a day to celebrate, it is also a day that deserves some remembrance.

My grandmother passed away on September 14th, 2005 at the age of 74. She had COPD and her body couldn't handle it much longer. Even though I knew her time was coming, it's always hard to lose someone you love.

She was the best grandma in the world. I remember getting in her makeup stash as a little girl and basically drawing all over myself with lipstick. She didn't get mad at me at all. At her townhouse in Houston there was a huge closet under the stairs that was filled with mostly toys for me to play with. And she introduced me to things like Praline's and Cream ice cream as well as these delish croissant/chicken things that she would make every Thanksgiving.

For most of my teenage life, she was in a wheelchair. We transported oxygen tanks everywhere with her because it helped her to breathe. She took many medications, vitamins, supplements, etc. that her poor little feet became so dry that they would peel. Luckily for her I am a little weirdo and I would get her tweezers and pluck off the dead pieces of skin like a little monkey. :)

I am going to share a story that is so close to my heart. Bare with me here.

When I left for college, I drove over to Mima's house to tell her bye. I walked in and she was sitting in her chair staring out the window. As I approached her, I said "Hi Mima!" and she got a smile on her face and asked me what I was doing. I told her I had come over to say goodbye because I was leaving for college the next day. We sat and she told me how proud she was of me and she knew I was going to do great things in my life. She also told me to please be safe and that I will always be "little" to her.

After a few more exchanges I got up and we both knew it was time for me to go. She gave me some money for Proactiv (she knew I used it religiously) and I leaned down to her height (she was in a wheelchair) and hugged her tiny body. She smelled like Jergens lotion. As I hugged her, I cried.  A lot. For some reason I felt like this would be the last time I'd have this type of interaction with my grandmother. I was so sad to leave, but she was very strong and did not cry, which was so true to her character: a dignified, hard as nails woman -- but with a heart of gold.

I went off to college and we'd talk on the phone from time to time over the first few weeks. She congratulated me on getting into a sorority and settling in at TCU. But in September, her health started to deteriorate. I got really sick one weekend and had to skip class on Monday when my mom called and asked me to come into town. "Mima isn't doing too well." I drove home as fast as I could. It's funny what you remember from significant moments in your life, and I remember listening to Backstreet's "I Just Want You to Know" on repeat on that drive from Fort Worth to Georgetown.

When I got to the hospital, it was a little eerie. I didn't know what to expect. Was she going to be her normal self? Or was she on the edge? I had no idea. What I did know was that I was walking to the same wing that I was in when my little brother was born. However, I wasn't aware that the room she was in was the same exact room Nick was born in!

I stayed the whole day at the hospital. She wasn't her old self, obviously. She was very weak and, like most people can, I could tell it was her time. All of my Mom's brothers and sisters made their way into town to give their last goodbyes, which was heart-wrenching to witness. It was incredibly heartbreaking, knowing your about to lose someone, but also to see your elders so heartbroken too. The silver lining was I having everyone in the same room together.

 Later that night, I was sitting in the room and was looking at Mima from across the way. My mom was rubbing her head, when Mima started talking. I don't think she was very coherent - her eyes were closed - but she kept saying things to my mom, here and there. She described different people she was seeing and then she told my Mom to tell Roger (my uncle) that he needs to play and that he'll win "10 to 2." I heard this and ran out of the room to find him.

He was playing for the Astros at the time and had a game the next day, September 14th; a Wednesday. I found my Uncle on a bench, tired and collecting him thoughts, and told him that Mima said he would win his next game 10-2. He got a big smirk on his face and said, "Wel,l now I know she's talking crazy... because we can barely get two runs." The Astros were not having a great season so it was pretty comical she said anything like that.

The next day, we knew it was time. Her heart rate was getting slower. One of the last memories  I remember was all of us standing around her hospital bed, the Patron Saint of our family, holding hands and praying. It was so hard seeing all of her children upset, but surprisingly I didn't cry. I think I was just happy she was going to be in a better place.

It's so bizarre: she passed on the same day, in the hospital, in the same room that my brother my born, 13 years before. (She was born on January 13th.) So many divine things lined up that it was hard not believe that God had a heavy hand in what happened next.

That night I had to drive back to TCU because I couldn't miss anymore school. On my way there (besides getting a speeding ticket) I was listening to the AM radio station broadcasting the Astros game. My uncle had driven back to Houston as well to pitch; many didn't understand his decision but we all did. It's what Mima would have wanted.

When I turned on the radio I was shocked - bottom on the 9th inning, and the Astros were up 10-1. What the heck?! There was no way. Then, before the last out of the game, the other team got a hit and the score was 10-2.

10-2. Exactly what Mima had said! We all knew she wasn't a soothsayer or psychic; it was divine intervention. I will never forget that memory to this day because it just reaffirms that there is a God, He is good, and He can heal any broken heart.

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