Dear Grandma Fitz,
I truly believed that you would live forever. And, I'm pretty sure that you told me you would at some point in my life. Now that you're gone, I have this big hole in my heart. It’s funny because I guess I didn't realize how much space you took up there until now. It's not just the things you would say...or the things you would do...it's just you and knowing that you were out there, somewhere, being you. Being Grandma Fitz and doing what Grandma Fitz does best. Everything.
You were love and generosity, mercy and forgiveness. You were kindness and patience. You were Trefzger's apricot coffee cake and thumb print cookies on every holiday. You were the great story for every lull in a conversation and the Grandma who drove a red jeep. You were the push for so many people to be better, do better, and live better. You were homemade pumpkin bread in old coffee cans and thanksgiving stuffing & cranberry relish. You were Easter dress shopping at Bergner's and trips to Tanner’s Apple Orchard. You were Dixon's Crab & Chutney dip and the ability to pick up a check at restaurant before anyone could say, "check, please." You were prayers for anyone who asked for them and ski runs in someone's honor. You were the person that called everyone "Honey" and never had a bad thing to say about anyone. You were funny emails and birthday cards to everyone you knew. You were a whistler to babies & teacher to a young mom who thought she knew everything but couldn’t manage to get her 10lb baby boy to burp without your help. You were everything that is right and good in this world.
A few days before you died, I sat at your bedside, holding your hand, I told you it was ok to go. As soon as I said it, I wanted to take it back but I knew you were suffering. I told you that you had more important things to do now - watch over my babies and go be a Grandma again to my brother Robbie Allen. Just weeks earlier, I wrote a post in your honor. One of the things I mentioned was one of the greatest lessons you've taught me as a mom: Do it. Make a memory. Experience the moment. Your kids will remember. On the day you died, I had actually planned to come over that afternoon. We knew that your time was truly limited and even though I knew we wouldn’t have a conversation per se I just wanted to see you maybe “one more time.”However, I didn't make it over in time before you died because we took the kids to the little zoo by our house. What else are you supposed to do when it is 50 degrees out in January?!? And yes, I was doing what you said - making memories. Toward the end of our zoo visit, I got the call that you were gone. It did not matter how much I had been preparing myself for this and actually praying for it the last few days. I was devastated. I felt like I could not breathe. Later that day at your place, I told my mom that I was so mad at myself for not being there earlier to be with you as you left this Earth. My mom then told me that I was exactly where you would have wanted me to be - with my family & out in the fresh air.
Since Eloise was a toddler, all you wanted was for her to know you and be comfortable with you. Because you were down in Peoria, she just did not have the time needed to connect with you like I did as a kid. However, when your cancer treatment brought you up to the Chicago area, all that changed. Not only did you become a regular part of my everyday life, you became that for Eloise. You & Eloise quickly developed a relationship. To this day, you are still the only one who calls her, "Elli." Eloise has seen you change for good & bad throughout the course of your treatment and had actually always assured me that you were doing better and would be fine. We did our best to prepare her over the last month or so that you were not getting better. Even with that preparation, it was one of the hardest things I have had to do as a parent to tell her you were gone. Thank God for Brad, his wise words and the strength you gave us to tell her. I'll never forget how she looked at me and the sweet, innocent things she said to me right after. When I told Eloise that she was so lucky to have known you and that you loved her so much, she squeezed me tighter and said, "I know." We continue to talk a lot about you watching over us in Heaven and how fascinating it is that you can hear our prayers.
Every day since you left us, I've been left with that feeling of "what now?" I'm not sure how we all are supposed to go on knowing that you're gone. As I have said before, I will try to be everything to my family you still are and always will be to me. It won't be easy though as your shoes are hard to walk in…your hiking boots are hard to climb in…and your skis are hard to ski on. I'm determined to be the kind, gentle, loving, passionate woman you showed me how to be.
At your funeral this past weekend, the Priest quoted a few lines from the poem, Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott-Holland -
"I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well. "
This has given all of us great comfort as we are struggling. I want you to know that I'm not sad all the time. I'm just sad in all these strung together moments where you creep into my thoughts and sometimes even my dreams. I woke up 2 Sundays ago, a week after you had died, with a heavy heart thinking about you. Later that morning, I looked out of the window and saw a big red cardinal. It's as if you knew I was hurting and you wanted to say Hi & I'm ok. So, while keeping my eye out for the next cardinal, I will take comfort in knowing that while you are no longer with us here on Earth, you are somewhere very near and all is well.
Love you forever Grandma Fitz.