Loss started, for me, with the death of my mother’s mother in 2007. It wasn’t exactly sudden, although I took it very hard. She was only 61 and, apart from her Emphysema, extremely healthy. I will always remember the click and whir sound her breathing apparatus made as she struggled for breath in bed over her last days. She wasn’t even a smoker.
We were always like two peas in a pod. Referring to the interests we shared, my mother always said, “It skips a generation.” It was true – my mother never took any interest in our hobbies. She sewed, crocheted, beaded, and knitted among other activities – all which she passed on to me. My Nana was always so proud to show me off to her stitch-n’-bitch groups. She had also participated in the WAF program which made her one of the first active-duty women in the US Air Force…
Though I had already lost both of my grandfathers, this happened at a much earlier age. It was almost easier to move through Loss as a youngster – I guess it never really registered. I was sad, of course, but I wasn’t as upset about it.
After the death of my maternal grandmother, I went off to Italy to do my senior year of high school. When I didn’t get into NYU early admissions, I decided to return to Italy to attend university there. I returned to the US to spend the summer with my family.
On the morning of my flight back to Italy, I called my paternal grandmother to say goodbye. She had passed in the night. Almost exactly a year after the death of my maternal grandmother. This was completely unexpected. Sure, she was in her mid-eighties, but – aside from the normal complaints of someone at that age – she did not have any grave health issues.
This, again, was extremely hard for me. She and I were always together. My Grandma was always my partner in crime. We went to operas and musicals together, out to dinner every week, and spent countless hours shopping. We even went on a few cruises together.
As hard as it hit me, it was a confusing time. Again, it was the day I was flying back to Italy. I didn’t have much time to stop and grieve. Fortunately, I suppose, completely removing myself from that situation almost made it unreal. At least surreal. My brain almost tricked itself into believing that she was still in her apartment doing her nightly evening exercise, dancing around her living room to Mario Lanza.
Everything seemed to return to normal – that is, as normal as my life ever was. I attended the first semester of University, lived in an apartment in the heart of Rome, made friends, studied, and went out. Life went on.