Hey y’all. Before I start, I will warn y’all that this is a very emotional post for me. If you are a person who is also grieving and needs to shy away from someone speaking about their grief & deceased loved one, I fully understand if you need to step away from this post…heck, I did quite a few times before writing it, while writing it and before editing it. While I’m sharing my love for my Grandpa & some pictures as well, I completely understand how speaking from a grieving place can be triggering to others. If you are okay with continuing, please feel free to.
So last week on the 7th marked one year since my Grandpa passed. To say that the year hasn’t been rough would be a boldfaced lie as I moved through all the stages of grief and had numerous therapy sessions that revolved around my grief and the importance my grandpa holds in my life. I honestly don’t even feel like important is a big enough word for what & who my Grandpa is to me but since words sometimes fail me, I have to leave it at that.
On Sunday, some of my family members gathered in person and virtually to commemorate his life. Before hand, we were asked to possibly say something and while I wrote something, I ended up not saying anything nor sharing it. I’m not completely sure why but part of me just didn’t feel like it was the place to be vulnerable in the way I felt I needed to be but here is a place where I can be as open as I feel the need to. With that being said, I’m going to share what I wrote (with edits) because I want to share just how big my love for my grandpa is with you all…he’s such a big part of my bookish journey…the reason I love the feel of a book in my hands and staring at the spines of different books organized on shelves. He’s the reason why I love history and feel strongly about the things I do because I saw him do the very same. He was & is my mirror…what I hope for kids to have through books if they don’t have that in the people around them.
So I wrote a letter about it. Like to hear it? Here it go. (That’s a Living Color reference for my youngins, lol):
December 12th, 2021
It’s been a little over a year since you decided to leave us…and not a day has passed where I’ve not thought of you. For days, I’ve ruminated about what I could say because there aren’t enough words to express to you how much you mean to me and the impact you’ve had on my life. I owe so much of who I am to who you are & were.
While You may not have said the words “I love you” but I always knew you did… Your love is something I never had to question, ask or work for as you always gave it freely. Even though words weren’t used, actions were your love language and I understood it to the very depth of my being. There are so many ways I knew you loved me and those around you and while it’s impossible to condense over 30 years of observations into a few paragraphs, I will certainly try to…
Your love was looking up books about our interests in your personal library & sharing them with us (I still have the books about Yoga in French that you gave me though I definitely can’t read them). Your love was pulling out your atlas & sharing details about the countries we were traveling to as well as showing National Geographic videos you may have had about them too like you did when I was preparing to go to India for study abroad. Your love was telling stories about your experiences & life in a way that made me feel like I was the only person in the room because storytelling came second nature to you like when you showed me a picture of Marian Anderson & told me the story of how you saw her perform in Haiti because I was doing a project on her in school.
Your love was traveling to where we were for big moments in our lives like my undergrad graduation in Alabama, phone calls on birthdays where you remind me that we are exactly 30 years apart in age (I would attempt to beat you to say it but since you’re super quick & selfless, it was rare for me to beat you to it) & holidays as well as scary moments in my life like when I was in the hospital after being hit by a car my first month away for undergrad. Your love was acknowledging whoever you saw sitting or standing by themselves because you wanted everyone to feel seen. You love was moments of twirling in the living room giving ballet lessons, sharing pictures of past moments like with your brothers who you are now with in Heaven or one of my cousin’s big life milestones or your Godchildren (which I realize I do the same because it’s what you did). Your love was always mentioning how I used to pull your beard as a baby and eventually you let me upgrade to combing it using the small comb you always kept in your pocket and even on your last days here with us.
Your love was making sure everyone was fed when they came to your house, even when you made fun of me for being vegan & it took a hot minute for me to realize you were picking fun but respected my decision…there won’t ever be sous pwa like yours. Your love was keeping mango juice in the fridge and making sure I knew it was there and then mentioning it when you didn’t see a glass in my hand or even encouraging me to have more because it was there for me. Your love was making sure whatever I cooked was on your plate & told everyone else to do the same then claiming all the leftovers though I didn’t initially know when you did and freezing them so you could have them days later. Those are still so many of my proudest moment to have the best cook in my life love & openly approve of my vegan recreations like on your 94th (which you claimed as your 95th) birthday when I brought you some of my vegan kremas and you said it was the first thing you were having in your “95th year” (you always knew how to make a girl feel special)…no one else’s approval mattered to me more than yours.
Your love has always been your presence and attention, making sure that everyone around you is taken care of. I know I told you that your work was done but I know that you didn’t stop watching over any of us because you have a larger platform to do so. I still feel your hand in mine like a phantom limb, light presses on my shoulders so I know you’re there, hear the shuffle of your feet like the music it is and your voice saying “my first grandgirl” both just for me to hear & the world to recognize. No one is prouder or luckier than me to say I’m not just your grandchild but your FIRST grandchild and I’ve not ever had to question whether you felt that same pride because you always made it known through your words, gazes and actions.
I miss having my favorite person physically around but I know you are always with me. I know I say it to you all the time in prayers but I won’t ever stop saying how much I love you. I will always share all the lessons you’ve taught me with everyone that I cross paths with and I know you move through me as I pull books from my shelves just as you used to when referencing them like the librarian you are. Sharing all that you are to me and all that you have taught me is the best way I know to continue to honor you and the legacy you’ve left.
While my love for you won’t ever leave me, I know it has simply expanded to be with you in your ancestor form. No amount of time or distance could ever take away from the love and adoration I have always felt for you. I will always be grateful to you for all you’ve given me in this lifetime and I pray for many more lifetimes where I’m reincarnated as your granddaughter, I hope to continue to be so lucky. I hope that when you rest, you will rest peacefully because you truly earned it.
I love you now and till we meet again. Always & forever proudly Your First GrandGirl, Latesha
Okay y’all…I need to walk away from this post because that took a lot out of me. If you made it this far, thank you for reading this… And please don’t feel sad for me because I got to have this amazing human being in my life for almost 35 years…I consider myself extremely blessed and I wouldn’t change very much (what I would change is attempting to push through my anxiety to spend more time with him & giving him triple the hugs and kisses I used to). If you are in the process of grieving yourself, I’m sending you tons of love and know there isn’t a finish line for you to move through it…please take care of yourself as it is one of the best ways we can honor our loved ones. I’m going to go drink some tea & read a rom-com to move myself out of this emotional state now. Sending you all big bookish love and wishing you happy reading.