Nana has become a very sacred piece of my life’s story. It starts with my own Nana, the real woman behind all of my writing. The other pieces are all stories for another day.
Nana was Greek and Portuguese, in fact it is with a bit of sheepish shame I admit I am not even certain how to spell her real name. For simplicity sake she went by Nola, to me she was just Nana.
I did not know Nana well and I knew her well enough. I may not know Nana’s favorite color but I know she loved sun showers which has forever changed the way I feel about rain that falls with sunbeams peeking through.
I may not know much about her life growing up and what her relationship with her mother was like (oh how I wish I knew these things) but I know what it felt like to sit next to her on a porch swing and fly, and in my heart that feels like a fair trade.
Most of my memories of Nana are broken shards due to the infrequency of our time together during my childhood. Nana and my mother had a challenged relationship, and even that may be a minimization of the truth. That is all I can say though because that is not my story, it is theirs, I only know what I have been told and how their relationship impacted mine with Nana.
It was an impact I felt, I can tell you that.
I did not see Nana for a long time, we were kept away, we being me and my brother. Then one day we weren’t kept away anymore. Nana looked different when I finally saw her again, her naturally bronze skin, a gift from her family’s Azores heritage, was pale and ashen. The life appeared drained out, as a child I was not aware of the pain that caused this change in her, the death that was already taking her from me. Terminal was not a word yet learned.
She was given 6 months so we were given 6 months, we missed so much and came back for the end. Like a hungry bird with a bread crumb I was grateful for what I was given, time is still time after all.
I was there the last minutes of the last hours of the last days. I was not meant to be and if any human intervention could have prevented it I knew my mother would have tried. The Universe knew though, this was intended, this was what Nana and I were meant to have together.
This moment. This moment of her looking up and away, the ultimate in-between of existing in both places at the same time, life and death, here and there. It has always been one of the biggest moments of my entire life. Such a simple thing to sit and hold her hand alone in a room, just me and her, our sacred moment together before she left me one last time.
I was 9.
I was 9 and I wasn’t. Witnessing death does that to you.
It was beautiful and I was not afraid. A nurse walked by and told me that my Nana was looking up at the angels, maybe so.
At 9 years old there was some ancient piece of my soul that knew how precious this moment was.
At 9 years old there were other little pieces of me that could not comprehend the meaning of forever. I grieved and cried and like the child I was, I questioned. Questions that have no answers because the only ones who know are the ones who go and there is no correspondence that goes through this cosmic in-between.
A social worker came, a foreshadowing of my future, she brought apples and for some reason that was very significant because although I do not remember her face or her name I remember the apples. I do not remember what was said between us save for one thing, you should write.
I was handed a spiral journal with a pocket on the inside and a pastel water color cover, blues, pinks, purples, teals all swirled together.
Write to her. Tell her about your day. Ask her questions. Write anything and everything, there are no rules.
There are no rules. The rest of my life I would go in search of places where there are no rules. Writing, art, nature, dance, places where there are no rules and all parts are welcome. Places of freedom where I can slip out of the expectations and noise of the world and slip into my own sacred truth, a truth that Nana helped me find.
There is only one way I know how to end this story:
I am 33 now. A social worker providing therapy to children. I write every day and think of you in sun showers. I am married and more importantly, in love. I understand now, things that I couldn’t before, things that elude so many for so long. Every day I come closer to my own sacred truth and it feels like I am coming home. I send my gratitude to the sky in hopes that it reaches your ears in the infinity where you call home. I love you and think of you often. Today you would be 89, Happy Birthday Nana.
With my whole heart always,
This post was originally written September 2017. It desires a new ending.
I am 35 now. A mother of a sweet little soul who chose me and whom I chose. I am a mother, Nana. I know you have been watching and I know you know the significance of me being able to say those words out loud. I feel you here guiding my heart. I still write every day and every day I am still inching closer and closer to my own sacred truth. I feel my light growing, I am being pulled and I am not afraid. I love you. Thank you for your part in my story.
With my whole heart always,