Bubbee passed away this morning, two and a half years shy of her century goal. Dad called and quietly told me; our voices were smooth above the grappling with ends underneath. He’d wanted to keep it brief, but I’ve never been good at that, and neither has he, so we talked about how it happened and the funeral and laughed about stuff that only makes sense if you had my specific bubbee.
Bubbee and I were never incredibly close; as a child, we did the family visits and intermittent letters, but not much more. We meandered into yearly meetings and cards and eventually hearsay, as the years passed. I thought today would be a soft sad day, but my memories that are sticking have a pointed quality to them, like they have a reason for wanting to be remembered.
Like her handwritten poems, about umbrellas and puddles and puppy dogs, that she sent me multiple times a year until I left for college, folded lengthwise on weird small purple paper and wrapped around a five dollar check, trademarked with her angular scrawl and her hopeful rhymes as she tried to make me smile from hundreds of miles away.
Like my brother, getting leave from active duty to chaperone her to and from my wedding, and merely raving about her exponential strength and spunk when he could have easily been eight shades of sleepless and irate. And Bubbee, wandering about the dance floor at 11pm, earnestly asking me if she did a good job partying with the rest of us.
Like all of us flying to Cali for her 90th and filing into an awkward dinner party that took up most of a super short weekend. Where we sat, in prim party clothes, around a long table under a blanket of food, and talked about random things in the hopes that Bubbee would suddenly look interested. Where we waded through appetizers and entrees and finally cake, only to have Bubbee peer out over her candles and say with utter clarity,
“I’m so glad you all could come out here to be here for this. It makes me glad to be alive.”
The memories are pointed, see, because even though we weren’t close, even though we weren’t always there
We were there, and she knew it
And loss is loss. Filling it with easements just makes the hole wider, because the absence is love, and that’s what we miss.