Strong like Her


What a life she’s lived.
Widowed at 48.

Lost a 16 year old child in a motorcycle accident.

Riddled by alcoholism in loved ones.
And through all of the turmoil, she stays steady and she stays strong.
I asked her once, “Grandma, how have you kept your faith in God? After all that you’ve faced, how do you stay so strong? How have you not lived a life of anger and resentment?”
“Well, you just do. You don’t get to just quit life. There’s no other choice. You just keep going.”
How silly I suddenly felt for wanting to die at the thought of gaining weight.

How clueless I was to what real pain felt like.

How sorry I am that I turned down so many of her cookies and buns.
I’ve always thought that my grandma was some sort of superhero. I adopted her as my unofficial-official-co-godmother at one point because I admire her so.

I was to be Strong like Her.

She delights in the simple things, like framed pictures and cards sent on Grandparent’s Day. She is not afraid to speak her mind. She loves the Twins and playing BINGO with her friends at the nursing home. I learned quickly not to take it personally when she’d hang up early on me because baseball was on. Her and I share a love for short phone conversations, and she giggles when I say I love her until she remembers to say it back.

Although she’s losing her sight, her hearing, and the feeling in her body, she hardly sits still. And now we face the next chapter some face while growing older- the loss of her mind.

I always said when she dies I might die too. We didn’t talk every day and I didn’t visit more than a few times a year, but she’s one of my favorite people. And when I heard that she’s losing her mind, I felt like she was already gone.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about dementia. How it destroys people from the inside out, leaving everyone wondering how to go about life. Where to go from here. How much time we have…

And my default is found in the worst case. So a part of me began grieving when I got the phone call. Tears streamed down my face as I began to piece together all of my favorite memories. Will she send another birthday card? Will she still know it’s me when I call? Will she still light up when she talks about her great-grandkids?

My mind drifted to a safe place. I wanted to eat. I wanted to fill up on “bad” foods as a statement of rebellion against this punishment that was handed down to her and to us.

“Do you want a hug?” my husband asked.

Yes. Maybe. “No.”

“Do you want me to sit by you?”

I feeel like I’m suffocating on the news. I just want to hide and stuff everything down with shit foods.. “No.”

“I’m trying to comfort you.”

I just want to use food, can’t you see that?! Isn’t it clear by now?! “I don’t know what I need. I need this to all go away.”

Sitting with the sting of what lies ahead. The anger that it’s going to happen to such an amazing woman. Fighting the urge to go numb. To make myself numb.
Take a deep breath.

Remember that Food doesn’t Fix you.

Don’t wake up physically and mentally hurting tomorrow.

Use the power you have and do what you can.
Be Strong like Her.

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