My wits are slow, and while I would love to produce a dazzling essay that would make my grandmother as vivid and wonderful to you as she was to me, I can’t do it yet. I do find it enormously comforting to hear that other people have been so sad when grandparents die, and I’m so grateful to those of you who have written to tell me that you felt the same way. Until you did, I almost felt as if I didn’t have the right to be so upset. She was old, and her death was not unexpected. And a grandparent is not a child, nor a parent, nor a sibling. She was almost fifty when I was born. What did I think, that she would live forever?
And yet she was my kindred spirit and my champion and my devoted lifelong friend. I have no trouble keeping her memory alive, as people always say. I know that I can think of her and remember her and read her letters (she wrote me thousands of letters–a letter at least every week for nearly my entire life) and talk about her and so forth. I know that I can still love her even though she is dead.
But she loved me in a way no one else ever has. Is this what we miss, when people die? It’s not that we don’t love them, but rather that they do not love us any more. That’s what’s gone–that’s why it feels selfish and terrible of me to mourn, why I am vaguely ashamed of it. I’m not just lamenting the loss of my grandmother, I’m indulging some kind of primal, childish anguish that the person who loved me best is gone.