What I remember most is your “Hi Dollies,” the way you’d stand at the top of the stairs when I would stop by for a visit. Your face always lit up to see me; my heart would grow four sizes bigger when I would see you. Sometimes you would have a pie in the oven. Or something ready for me to eat. The house was always impeccably clean. As if you knew I was coming over. You always knew. You were smart like that. I remember when I was younger. And sleepovers at your house were the highlight of my week. I loved playing princesses in your gowns with Rachel. I always got the pink gown. She had the purple. We’d run around the house hoping you’d forget our fast approaching bed times. We felt so elegant and regal, yet we were so young and innocent. If you could see us now.
I remember when you first got sick too. You were so stubborn you you refused to go to the doctor. We begged and begged and you said you were fine. But we all knew. When you first lost your hair, the cancer society gave you some wigs to wear. And you placed them so nicely in the closest because there was no way you weren’t going to rock some gorgeous scarf around your new fuzzy short do’. You didn’t need any wig. You were perfect the way you were. I remember you couldn’t make it to my last college meet you were so ill. That day I landed a perfect 10 on vault. And I knew you were watching over me. I pictured your face lighting up when Grandpa called to tell you the news. My heart grew four sizes bigger just picturing your reaction. For 20 years you were my biggest cheerleader, saving every result book, picture and newspaper clipping. You made me feel like a winner in even the worst of times.
You were so brave, Nan. Braver than I could ever be. Even at the McNally house. When you wasted away to skin and bones, with just a few stray hairs on your head, you still had time to smile. You smiled while you napped. You smiled when anyone came to visit, even though you were so sick. You smiled when we opened your room door to let the May birds songs drift in. You smiled the biggest three days before you left for Heaven, when Grandpa took you for a drive to McDonalds for an ice cream. How you had the strength to go amazes me. But then again you amazed me all the time.
When I think of you now, I get a funny pain in my palm. This tingly feeling that signals the onset of tears. And the tears make me realize how now that you’re gone, I’ve lost my best friend. Sometimes I pick up the phone to call you, to hear your voice. But you won’t pick up. Unless I call to the big house upstairs. I know you’ll answer me then. And then we could talk. I could tell you about the wedding progress Andy and I have made, and how I am very much enjoying my internship at the magazine. You could tell me about your walks downtown and your garden. You’d maybe talk about how Rachel is doing, or the damn birds outside your kitchen window. And it would be like old times, just you and I.
You used to always whip out a tube of lipstick when we were together. “Put a little colour on your lips,” you’d say. And if I was lucky you’d dab some on my cheeks as blush. You weren’t a fancy lady. A no fuss kind of gal. But you loved your lip colour. And you were so beautiful. Thanks Nan for watching over me everyday for the past two years. For reminding me that the simple things in life make the journey worth it. For teaching me about grace, forgiveness, selflessness, and charm. And for always loving me for who I am. It’s not good bye, it’s until we meet again. I love you.