14 February 2013

an anniversary

Four years ago today, I was in my last semester of college. I was writing my senior thesis - something about Kenneth Burke, mostly because he was/is one of my favorite theorists. I had joined the Peace Corps. I got my passport that Christmas and was just a few weeks away from finding out my assignment. I was really hoping for Mongolia or Cambodia. I was in Seussical and our performances started later that week. It was Saturday and I had a voicemail from my dad when I came out of rehearsal. I hopped on my bike and returned his call. I think strawberries were on sale at Foodland that weekend. I didn't stop riding while he talked to me and didn't stop crying for a long time. 

Within a couple a days, I had dropped classes, postponed graduation, dropped out of the Peace Corps (as I was no longer qualified because I would not be a college grad by my departure date, and also because when you experience a big life change or a close family death, they cancel your application and make you wait a year before reapplying), and flown back to Iowa. 
I spent the next week practically living at the hospice, mostly terrified of the woman who no longer looked our sounded like my grandmother. One week from Valentine's Day, I held my gram's hand as she died. 

I know everyone's grandmothers die. But mine was my babysitter, my neighbor, my teacher, my ride to and from school each day, my cheerleader at all my sports games and my concerts, my sweet tooth indulger, my Sunday night dinners, and my weeknight news. My fireplace, my warmest pillow, my most delicious book. 

Today was Travis and my's fourth Valentine's together. The past three, and this one, have all been full of a lot of my tears. Tonight he wiped them and reminded me that I carry memories and DNA in me, and that she is with me.

And I remembered how she always joked about me finding a Hawaiian boy and having a Hawaiian wedding with Hawaiian fruit punch. And I think about how Travis and I would have never happened if I had graduated that spring and gone away before the fall. And how life takes and gives, and fills you up with more than you ever thought was possible.