When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my Nana whom I dearly loved and adored, got very sick. Around the time of our wedding, she began falling and having problems remembering things. That next spring, the local art museum hosted a traveling Degas exhibit and since my parents were in town visiting, we decided to all go.
I knew it would be sort of a "last hurrah" with my Nana as her health was fading fast and she had become agitated, mean and feisty. That morning I arrived at her house, so excited to both go out with her and see the Degas paintings which I've been enamored with nearly my entire life.
But she was not having it. She was in no mood to go and let us know. She became argumentative and probably threw around few nasty and hateful words as she had gotten in the habit of doing.
It broke my heart. I was devastated that she did not want to spend that time with me but even more so devastated seeing in full force that it was the beginning of the end for my previously warm-hearted and loving Nana.
My parents suggested my husband and I still go but I didn't want to. I want to go with Nana and had been looking forward to our outing. Holding back the tears, I decided to just go clear my head and hopped in the car. My husband jumped in beside me and we drove up the coast.
We ended up at an ice cream shop in a little beach town we'd never heard of. I poured my heart out and shared my fears of losing Nana at such an important time in our lives. I desperately wanted her to meet her first great-grandchild, to know our children and for our children to know her. It didn't work out that way and we lost Nana just a short time later when I was 28 weeks pregnant.
Almost 7 years went by and I didn't think much more of that day. That was, until we moved and my husband decided to take us out for breakfast at a popular restaurant near our new home. It was a beautiful Fall morning, cool enough to comfortably sit outside with a nice breeze (which sometimes gusted fiercely and carried our napkins away).
We had a lovely breakfast, all of our kids were in great moods. And when I was done with my meal I just took it all in: My loving husband, my amazing children, this beautiful life.
And then it hit me: this was the place. The little beach town where I bared my soul over ice cream. And here we were, my heart spread all around the table and I was engulfed by sadness. My four beautiful children that will never know my Nana, the woman who I adored and who meant the world to me.
We headed home and I walked in the house and I was immediately over taken by the smell of the new-to-us furniture we just received. We'd been waiting for the pieces since we moved into the house 6 months before.
And I smell it every time I walk through the room: the familiar smell of love and memories. The furniture belonged to my Gran'ma. The table I ate Thanksgiving dinners at growing up. and the desk I admired by her front door that seemed so grown up and special when I was still so small. The same smell that had always been her.
It's amazing how our memories can feel so alive and present in our current situations. How a place, a smell can bring back so many great memories yet flood us with sorrow for those we have lost.
I look at my littlest one and all the love he is surrounded by but I am also saddened that he will never know any of the amazing Great-Grandparents that his brother and sisters knew.
The four great-grandparents his siblings got to know, love and make memories with. The four great-grandparents whom we lost before his existence, before they even knew he was a thing, will merely be stories and objects to him. And even my older kids have very small memories of the amazing people that shaped who my husband I became.
We have lost so much in the past 10 years, but we've gained so much more. Our family is nothing like it was before but the grandparents we have lost are certainly helping to shape our children's futures. Even though my children never really knew them.