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  • Writer's picture Jana

How Could it Have Been A Year Already?

On September 3rd, we marked the one-year anniversary of my mom's passing. I could hardly believe that an entire year of birthdays, special celebrations and so many other important milestones had passed since her death. Due to the ravages of Covid, we had not seen her since February 2020 (for Miles birthday), seven months prior to her death. So her absence from our lives predated her death, by a significant stretch of time, catastrophically.

I had been filled with dread and fear about this upcoming day, for weeks, But when the day arrived, I handled it much better than I had anticipated I would. Maybe that was because I decided. to make it a day of celebration, rather than sadness. I wanted the day and evening to have an upbeat feeling. I know that's what my mom would have wanted. I also wanted that for the kids. I wanted us to remember happy times and although it was inevitable that tears would be shed, I did not want the day. to have a somber tone.

Given that her favorite flowers were sunflowers, she made my job quite easy. I decided not only. to bring sunflowers to her grave, but also throw a sun-flower themed dinner party in her honor. Everything was awash in yellow, so how could we not help feeling upbeat?

We started the day at the cemetery, followed by an early lunch at the Tam-O-Shanter, one of her favorite restaurants. Later we had our sunflower-themed party, followed by watching one of her favorite movies, Mrs. Doubtfire, with Robin Williams, which the kids loved! Nothing sad nor somber about that day!

I miss my mom more than words can say. However, because we keep her memory alive by talking about her everyday and remembering her everyday, this anniversary was not the dreaded milestone it could have been. We visit her all the time at the cemetery, so even on this day it was just another visit to Granny. Nothing about the day felt heavy nor sorrowful. I am so grateful to her for having the foresight to guide us through grieving her death. The poem she left us (see below) has been invaluable as we have had to navigate life without her. It has not been easy, but we made it through the first year.

I am eternally grateful to her for the love she gave me, over my lifetime and also the deep love and gratitude she had for her four grandchildren. Nothing brought her more joy than those four precious children. We try to so hard to live our lives in a way that would make her proud and happy. That is the most heartfelt tribute we can pay her.

We had a lovely visit to the cemetery (albeit a bit short one, due to the excessive summer heat). We brought sunflowers and the same orange-colored roses that adorned her casket when she was buried.

I surprised the kids with the sunflower-themed table. It was so cheerful and happy and they seemed overjoyed at the sight of it.

We set Granny's place, next to Catherine, as we always do. We listened to some of her favorite music during dinner, including Let it Be (her song). Over the course of the holiday weekend (the anniversary of her death falls over Labor Day weekend), we heard Let it Be a mere 12 times, randomly, on the radio. Granny was definitely trying to connect with us.

For dinner I decided to make one of her favorite foods, lamb chops. The kids had never tried them so I was a bit concerned they might not like them (they can be an acquired taste, after all). I called them by a different name ("steak chops") so as not to turn them off to the idea of trying them. It worked! Catherine and Miles devoured them. Garin tried one (he normally doesn't like any kind of meat, especially if there is a bone involved). He too, loved them! The only decenter was Graham, but he was a good sport and ate one. Granny would have been thrilled to see the kids enjoying one of her favorites. I served them with a fresh mixed green salad and roasted potatoes and onions.

My mom loved cake, any kind of cake. But her favorite was chocolate, so I got this one for dessert and served it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, her favorite combination!

Miles made this handmade card for Granny. He didn't quite understand the meaning of the day, other than the bright yellow decor, so he wrote "Happy Yellow Anniversary Granny," but of course, in his unique and adorable six-year-old spelling (see above).

This is the poem my mom left for us upon her death. This has been a godsend as have struggled to live life without her over the past year.

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