We are rapidly approaching a year since Nana passed away. January 1st is coming out of now where. Time is now measured in terms of “before nana passed” and after. I’ve heard people talk about this but as I’ve explained before, this is my first time it hit me hard. So as the 1 year mark approaches things look different to me.

The first few months “after” people would say encouraging things like “it gets easier” and “you just learn to live with it”. I’ve seen more than one counselor who’s encouraged me to “find the new normal”. I swear that term is for idiots. Its also wildly unhelpful and sparks an almost physical response in me. Of course this isn’t a “new” normal this is just life. All of life is the “new normal”. Uh sorry, between Nana passing and this damn pandemic I swear the “new normal” is 2021 version of “be present” and “live intentionally”. All seems like it should sound good but really earns an eye roll and barf face from me.

Anyway back to the “it gets easier”. Liars. It hasn’t gotten easier. We have continued to live our lives and haven’t hidden under the covers and refused to function as a human (although the state of my house tells a different story). We’ve lived this year. Our family has gotten to together and celebrated and done all the things we know will make us feel better, be connected, together, stronger, and like our whole world didn’t come crashing down on us January 1st 2021. But it did. And there are days when it feels exactly like that.

Every first this year was hard. I am forever grateful for my family. No matter what we pull together and we make a real honest effort to be apart of each others lives and to live the way she would have wanted. We continue to be close and connected. The relationship some professions might deem “unhealthy” lives on. We are just missing The Don.

Sometimes I swear I feel her guiding us. Rylan and I pray every night to give her hugs from us. Rylan told me one day when we were driving that the sky looked like cotton candy and as the clouds moved she said “look mama it looks like Nana and Jesus are playing with it”. She then asked if I needed her to plug my nose because thats what she does to my mom when my mom cries. Now every time the sky looks like cotton candy I think its Nana and Jesus playing with the sky for Rylan. No its not getting easier.

Pat bought us a new truck. You know the holiday commercials where the husband surprises the wife with a new car? I always think “how stupid! People don’t actually make huge purchases like this without talking to their significant other”. Except they do. I wanted to be annoyed because while we had talked about it, we hadn’t actually decided to it. But its beautiful and I love it so I can’t even pretend to be mad. Anyway we took it through the Chevron car wash and Pat was telling me about a time when our friend took their truck through and a ton of cans in the back of the truck went flying everywhere (he had forgotten they were in there). He said once the car wash stopped he pulled forward and got out only to find Nana behind his truck picking up cans yelling at him “damn it Jim what the hell were you thinking you know better!” I can just see both of them laughing. Of course he helped her clean but these stories that I didn’t know about that I love to hear.

Keeping her memory alive is what helps. Those stories and traditions are what help me. After hearing that story and listening to Rylan talk about her it feels like a Aloe on a sunburn. You’re still burned but it soothes just a little bit. Just for a little while.

I read the book Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella about a girl who’s parents get divorced and her dad is selling her childhood home only the step monster didn’t invite her to the last party in the house. (yes mom quick boring book talk but I have a point I swear). The whole story is adorable and witty and makes me think of my own family. Even though we are all hurting, we will come together and tell stories, laugh and be the aloe to all our sunburns for each other. I’m grateful for each and everyone one of them.