At about 3pm today I sat here in the family room just completely broken. Astrid was demanding my time – asking for scissors, or for me to look at a picture she made, or for clean socks, or something. But I just shushed her again and again. I put my hand up to keep her back.
So I could hear.
I had invited her to sit on my lap and watch and listen with me – but the people on the screen didn’t interest her.
So I sat and watched and listened to history. My history. Their history. Our history. And I sobbed. Big loud and heavy tears type sobbing.
As I was cleaning out our books and movies and music, I found the DVD that my uncle had burned from the video at my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party in 1997. I had never watched it before. I put it in and there on my screen were my grandparents. Just as I remember them. Now both gone, but there all of a sudden in front of me and so full of life like always.
I smiled and stood up to touch the screen at the place where I could touch my grandpa’s face. I used to sit on his lap and stroke his face – the whiskers and wrinkles – as he would hold me tight on his lap.
I watched the two of them making jokes with each other. Flirting like they always did. Making jokes with the Priest as he blessed their marriage again.
My tears were of joy because there they were in my home. Them. Their voices. Their friends. Alive.
But soon my hand covered my mouth to try to catch my first sob when I heard her laugh.
And I cry again now just typing that. When we talk about saving things as a memory – books, pictures, letters, trinkets – nothing I have of my grandma’s can truly bring her to a place of peace and love in heart. Nothing brings her back to be with me. NOTHING can replace the love she gave to everyone. There’s this void that I’ve felt for nearly nine years since she left us.
And at 3:11pm today I realized what it was.
Her laughter. Her laugh is like no other laugh. This quiet lady had such a big laugh. Unique laugh. Often laugh. And I sat here today hitting rewind -play- pause-rewind – over and over and over again just to hear her laugh.
“It’s here, Astrid – It’s here – SHE’s here!” I kept saying again and again and again. “She’s right here! We have her. We can have her forever because we still have her laugh!”
And Astrid snuggled in my lap for a few minutes to listen and to meet the great-grandma that she never knew.
The anniversary party soon faded to black and I turned the TV off. My tears continued to fall and I kept wiping and wiping and wiping to no avail. I hugged Astrid tight and tried to make plans to capture more moments like that video. Now we capture such small snippets of life with our phones. But are we capturing what’s really important. Are we capturing what their grandchildren will want to see and hear one day. They’ll want to remember what she was really like – when she hugged them, when she laughed, when she told funny stories.
It’s hard to guess what could capture that. Because loved ones leave us with these odd material things – furniture, linens, letters. But none of that matters because it’s not them. This helped me today as I made hard decisions to toss or keep. Because I know I have what’s really important. My grandma’s laughter forever in my heart.