It’s hard for me to write these words because it is much easier to deny reality right now than to accept it, but here it goes: you died yesterday. Yeah, I know, it looks weird to me when put into writing, too, but what’s a girl to do? I wish we had more time together, but that’s the selfishness in me. You were 92 years old and would have turned 93 in November, which makes a lot of sense as to why we were thick as thieves: virgos and scorpios, baby! But at 92 years, how can I possibly wish for more time? I truly believe you were ready. You wanted to be with Pop Pop, and now maybe I can find some peace knowing you’re with him again, watching Notre Dame games, drinking lots of tea, and making fun of all of us with your usual sense of loving snark. I know, I know, I’m “so bad” and “too much,” and yet somehow you made those descriptions of me sound like the most magical, musical phrases that ever existed, especially because you couldn’t say them with a straight face or without a sense of ease underneath them. I miss you so much already. I’m trying not to cry while writing this because, for whatever reason, crying feels like I’m somehow short-changing how wonderful you were, and I want the *entire* world to know how amazing a Nana you were to all of us. Sheesh, Nana, you had a lot of kids and a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Talk about Irish-Catholic in America, right?! Jokes aside, how does one measure someone’s 92 years on earth? If having a wonderful, loving family is the measure of true life success then you were one of the richest people I have ever met.
I love how much you loved Archy and how you would always ask if you could sneak her pieces of cheese under the table, which totally defeats the purpose of sneaking, but as much as I give my parents a hard time for giving Archy ‘people food,’ I think you knew I could never say no to you. You were allowed to do whatever you wanted, Nana. I love that you never made me feel weird as a little girl for being a picky eater. I’d come to Nana and Pop Pop’s house, and you’d have white bread with yellow mustard waiting for me. I remember you as the first person who taught me how to make fried chicken, who always asked me if I had a boyfriend until a few years ago when you started to ask me strictly about my career and my goals, who always told me how proud she was of me, who always had room for ice cream and dessert (not one or the other, but both), who shared countless cups of tea with me, who wanted to hear all of my stories of living in Ireland, and who enjoyed watching Hallmark movies with me where we’d both sit and complain about how all the movies were the same even though, deep down, we both loved them and their predictable happy endings.
I remember sitting with you in the kitchen, talking about how you and Pop Pop met down the shore playing miniature golf only to discover a few weeks later that you’d worked in the same building - on different floors - for years. I remember countless family gatherings with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles, involving meat and cheese trays for sandwiches and ambrosia salads for dessert. I spent this past Thanksgiving at my boyfriend’s family’s house, and they had their version of ambrosia salad, which made me think of you. I’m happy you got to meet my boyfriend over video chat. I wish circumstances were different with the coronavirus pandemic, but I know you’d really love him if you’d had more time to get to know him. We went paddle boarding and out to lunch yesterday where I shared so many stories about you with him, and we talked about his grandparents, too.
Death is a tricky thing, right? Although you’re not physically here anymore, you’re not really gone. You live on in all of your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and in the stories we tell about you. As we get older and we start losing people we love, we do find ways to keep them alive in our hearts. I will always keep you alive in my heart, Nana, and one day when I have kids, I’ll let them eat yellow mustard on white bread and not let them think twice about how weird it might be.
You were the last grandparent I had left. My Mom Mom passed when I was 13, Pop Pop Walsh (your beloved) when I was 16, and Pop Pop (on my mom’s side) when I was 27. You waited until I was 30, and I got three wonderful decades with you. I told my boyfriend yesterday that it made sense why Mom Mom was first and you were last to pass of my grandparents. I needed a strong woman to lead and a strong woman to hold down the fort for the rest of us until it was time and I was ready to let go. Even as prepared as anyone can be in letting go, it still feels like a shock even if it isn’t totally. I think my Mom Mom taught me what it meant to fight back and rebuild yourself for years after a trauma (her stroke) and how brave it is to be able to feel peace in knowing when it is your time to let go and move on, and you taught me what it looks like to persevere and to lean on family and friends around you in order to survive the loss of a spouse, finding meaning and purpose to hold on and continue living your life without Pop Pop for 14 years and to the age of 92.
Thank you, Nana. I’m sure I’ll be thinking of you and sharing many more memories in the days to come, but like the predictable happy endings of the Hallmark movies we’d watch together, I have no doubt you got the best predictable happy ending of all: being with Pop Pop again.
I miss you so much. Thank you for your laughter, your wisdom, your love, and your endlessly hilarious snark. Thank you, too, for watching my taped musical auditions and giving me the praise I needed at the time and for giving me sweet inspiration for a Groundlings character I based off of you a couple years ago; the character (you) was a hit. I love you. I will see you again someday, but hopefully not for a very long time.