I have found that the times when I miss my grandmother sneak up on me out of no where. In fact usually they begin with the brightest and happiest days. I think I’ve figured out that it’s the brightness and happiness in itself that prompts my heart to miss her so, because it reminds me of her brightness, and it makes me wish I could share my happy life with her.
It is Saturday afternoon, one of those longed for quiet weekend respites, and I’ve been working on my daunting project of exiting social media. I say daunting, because I love pictures. I always have. I love pictures because to me, they are memories: memories of life, both the good and the bad. They are ways for me to look back on occasion and remember the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the sad. I’m able to remember everything from a happy event, to a painfully hard lesson learned during that same season of life. Back to the story: in order for me to exit Facebook completely I needed to download all of my facebook albums, which is where for many years now I’ve stored all of my picture memories, hence the “daunting” task.
I made a hearty pancake, bacon, & eggs breakfast for my husband and as per our Saturday morning (or should I say afternoon?) tradition we ate our big weekend breakfast while watching a movie. Today’s choice was Holes. I haven’t seen Holes since I was a young kid, so I didn’t remember a lot about it. What a great movie! After I finished eating I pulled over my laptop and continued the process of downloading one album at a time, and accidentally deleted forever one of my albums from Paris. I’m sick over that. But at least some of my favorites from there are saved elsewhere, and I know life is about more than the camera lens! I finally completed this daunting task that has taken me several days, which means having finished the creation of this blog, I am truly ready to say Goodbye for good to all my social media accounts.
My husband had an understandable moment of frustration with me. I’d finished downloading and subsequently deleting each Facebook album, when the value of all these pictures hit me, along with the relative old age of my external harddrive. (He had suggested I not delete them from Facebook until we found a second way to back them up, in case something should go wrong with my external harddrive. Like the extremist I am, I insisted I needed to completely delete my Facebook account altogether, or I wouldn’t feel like my project was true or complete.) The value of all these pictures suddenly hit me, and I realized after the accident with one of the Paris albums that if I lost all of these pictures I would be heart broken; these are photos all the way from beginning of high school to our honeymoon, to the first year of our marriage! So I asked my husband if we could buy a newer external harddrive just in case, and of course, being the saint he is, he didn’t say “I told you so.” He was temporarily frustrated with me naturally, although still very patient.
Our movie ended and David finished backing up the photos onto his own computer as a temporary measure since he doesn’t have much harddrive space, and I walked into our bedroom to put my hair up in preparation for working on organizing our guest room which is currently in shambles. I’d been feeling a growing sense of sadness stealing over my heart, which was confusing to me. I opened the bedroom blinds and beautiful fall light poured into our room, and a wave of emotion bowled me over. I sat down on the edge of the bed looking out into the parking lot covered by an oak tree and several pines, and felt a knot forming in my stomach. I sat there querying as to why I was feeling such unexpected and unwelcome unhappiness when David popped in and asked if I was okay. I told him I was struggling to know why I wasn’t. I started to speak out loud suggestions about what I might be feeling sad about. I often process the best when I speak out loud, and sure enough I touched on a surprising revelation. It seemed that my growing sadness was springing from the realization that I was ready to say my final goodbyes to social media! It seems so silly when I say it, and I felt almost ashamed to admit it.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I have friends on Facebook who I will most likely never see again, and I have friends on Facebook who I see very rarely, and it feels like this isn’t just a goodbye to social media, a goodbye to an era of my life spent recording on and perusing social media, but it feels like I’m going to be saying goodbye to a lot of people who I care about. As I downloaded all those pictures it brought back many memories of wonderful people who I miss dearly. I was struck with this intense awareness that my life will never again be the same. David offered a good piece of advice about giving myself time to process and grieve and say goodbye emotionally. I agreed with him wholeheartedly but told him that that wouldn’t take away the knot and sadness that was tightening in my heart at the moment. I started crying harder than I expected, completely confused as to why this was effecting me so much. David came and sat down next to me and cradled me while I cried, and after a few minutes I felt this new wave of sorrow sweep over me when I looked out the window at the deck chairs placed invitingly on our back porch and thought how intensely I’d like to sit down with my Nonnie for a chat about life. I told David how much I wanted to talk to her, and I thought with pain shooting through my heart how I wished she could be part of my life still. I wish she could sit here in my little home in Memphis and be my Grandma; that she could know the kindness of my husband, the sunshine of a Memphis Fall season, the inviting scent of the lilac candle on the handsome coffee table in the middle of my cozy living room.
As I sat with my husband’s arms around me, throat and head aching from the tears, I asked him “Why does there have to be so much grief in life?”
His answer? “Because there is so much love in life.”
How very true. Nonnie loved me, and I loved her more than I knew, or even know now. I have a lot of regrets, and one of them is that I didn’t think so well of Nonnie as she deserved while she was alive. Now that she’s gone I realize how much I missed out on in my ignorance and self-absorption. If I could do it again, I’d find a way to spend more time with her, even when we were on opposite sides of the continent from each other. I’d let her be my Grandma.
I love you, Nonnie. I love that my beautiful flowers blooming in the vase next to me, the smell of the coffee David just brewed, and the sunshine, make me think of you. I love that you will be alive in my heart and my mind until the day I see you again when I arrive in our homeland. And I’m so glad I can say “our.” I’m so glad that I know I will see you again.
I love that your love is one of the reasons I know life is full of grief. I love that without this grief, it would mean I had never known your love.