The houses we’re working on are only a couple of miles from my great-grandparent’s house. And, if I’m being honest, I’d been putting off driving by it. I hadn’t been in a couple of years considering that, before she passed away, my great-grandmother lived with my grandparents and then in assisted living before the hospital. She passed away in November and my great-grandfather passed away in August of 2011.
So, yesterday I decided to swing by and say hello to my grandparents who were cleaning the house up and out. I walked through the little courtyard area and was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I could almost see my cousins and me in our 90’s Easter clothes, walking along the brick edges of the fountain pool. After going inside and saying hello to my family, I wandered around the house taking in every memory that came back to me. They were all there; a kitchen full of people and food, a small table by the window hosting a game of Scrabble, and even my great-grandfather sticking his head in the computer room to ask what I was writing.
Eventually, I gathered the courage to go downstairs. I could hear the pool balls crashing into each other even though the table is now at my parent’s house. (That’s where all of the cousins spent most of our time, downstairs trying to prove who was better at a game of pool.) I went over by the fireplace, sat in my great-grandmother’s chair and started to cry. Christmases haven’t been the same since they stopped taking place in their house. The chairs and couch were all in their familiar spots so I tried my hardest to travel back to a time where they were full of laughter and wrapping paper. Their emptiness felt uncomfortably foreign to me.
My great-grandmother was a painter and she was a talented one at that. Their house had paintings everywhere with a good handful of them being her pieces. The one I loved most was of “the yellow raincoat”. Its home was downstairs by the TV. I remember I used to just stare at it, even at a young age, admiring how beautiful it was. So, when my nana came down and asked if there was anything I knew I wanted, I said that painting. It wasn’t in its normal spot so she told me she’d look for it. Shortly after I left, she found it and sent me a picture. I’ve spent a good portion of my morning looking at that picture.
One the hardest parts of losing someone you love so much is the infinite ache that their presence leaves behind. You long to hear another sassy remark or feel another soft and comforting hug. You find yourself grasping for memories of Christmases and ice cream runs and begging to stay there. I don’t think you ever truly get over that kind of heartache. I just think that coping with it becomes easier.
I am so grateful to have had the time I did with my great-grandparents. And, even though I can no longer physically touch them or see them, I am grateful that I can still feel their love and see it shine through in the beautiful things that remind me of them. For me, those things are; holidays, beautiful scenery, ice cream, and the yellow raincoat.