Heaven Couldn't Wait For You

Five years ago my grandmother passed away.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I was working at as a host at a restaurant in DuPont Circle in DC, and at the time my brother worked right down the street from me.  He called my job and for whatever reason, I wasn’t at the host stand to answer the phone.  My manager came to me and told me to get my things and they were sending me home early.  Always about the coin, I questioned why.  Someone will be here to explain to you soon, they said.  I thought it strange, and a million things went through my head (none of them good), but I got my things and was heading out to leave as I saw my brother walking towards me. I didn’t have time to process the coincidence of it being my brother, and he quickly ushered me to his car. 

We got in, and he told me the news.  I immediately busted out crying. We just saw her the week before in hospice.  I thought we had a little bit more time.  She was turning 88 in exactly a month and I 21; I selfishly wanted her to be alive for both occasions.  I was actually suppose to be born on her birthday (but I’m stubborn and like to sleep), but was born the morning after.  I wanted desperately to believe it wasn’t true as we drove to the hospice.  As we walked up to the house, I saw my grandmother being rolled out in a body bag; my knees buckled, and I dropped to the floor as I wailed out. I gasped for air as if it were me in the body bag. That moment still haunts me, and probably always will.

It is a long process of healing and dealing with the loss of someone who is close.  I don’t think that hole ever fills back up, you just get better with tip toeing on the borderline.  She was a mother of seven (yes, seven), with very little education, and was that tough love type.  I didn’t always understand or appreciate that, but growing older, I am comforted by some of the things she use to say to me.  She was one of the few adults that wanted me to live my life for me.  She encouraged me in everything I did, was there for all of the awards and big life events.  When I came home from college with tattoos, she defended me from my parents and told them I earned my money and should be able to do whatever I wanted.  She encouraged me to have fun, to stay prayed up, and to travel (that woman had major wanderlust and has been literally everywhere).  She was tough, funny, and said whatever was on her mind.  I grow more and more like her in more ways than one, and I miss her everyday.

This time is about loss, but her death will not be in vain.  Everything I’ve done since her death, has been in remembrance of her- I love feeling her smile down on me when I take a step closer to my destiny. 

So I launch the new chapter in my creative life, my website, as a celebration and the passing of the torch on the day she became my angel.  From dust, the phoenix rises.  A new day, a new breath of life, the next chapter of our collective legacy.

This one’s for you, Nellie Bell.