Before you go

Death has come far too frequently as of late.

It seems like every time we watch the news, a terrible tragedy has happened.

Friends have lost loved ones. Strangers have lost loved ones.

I’ve lost loved ones.

Death has just become far too familiar, bringing temporary reminders of how fragile life is.

Then the numbness fades somewhat and life goes on, until death pays another visit.

And we’re filled with regrets for things said, unsaid, done, and undone.

For 10 years, Granny and I had waged a war – over what, I wasn’t fully certain, but it was a full-on bitter war.

She got mad at me one day, to the point I walked out of the house and was standing outside, shaking I was so mad.

“Let it go, baby,” my uncle tried to calm me down.

“She’s hateful. The most hateful, meanest creature God ever wobbled a gut in,” I spat. “I’m not going back in there.”

I didn’t either, leaving that day with Lamar and Cole and headed back to the mountains.

My visits became less frequent.

“I wish you’d come visit more,” Mama would say.

“If that old woman hadn’t been so hateful to me, I might, Mama.”

When she answered the phone, I kept it brief, asking to speak to Mama. I was hurt, angry, upset – what had made her react so hatefully to me that day?

It was if I wasn’t her only grandchild, but some stranger. And her words had hurt me to the point I just distanced myself further and further.

“You should talk to Granny,” Lamar would say gently on our way home from our visits.

I would shrug it off. Even after her outburst that day, she had said some pretty terrible things about me to Mama.

“I don’t really have anything to say to her,” I said quietly.

And in my mind, the old gal never apologized for being a horse’s butt so I never got over it. We both were stubborn that way.

The grudge went on for nearly 10 years, neither of us really budging.

A month before she passed, we had visited when we went to get Ava.

Lamar still says Ava was part of a divine intervention making us see Granny that one last time.

While we were there, Lamar spent most of the time outside with Ava, unsure how the new German shepherd would do with the menagerie of cats my Mama and uncle had rescued.

As we left, I gave Granny a short, sideways hug – the kind you give folks you consider acquaintances, not family and definitely not the grandmother that helped raise you.

She sat in the doorway in her wheelchair, and watched us leave.

A month later, she was gone.

The day before, Mama said Granny was not doing well.

“I don’t know if she’s going to make it much longer,” Mama said.

And I, still dwelling in a pool of unforgiveness and anger, didn’t act like I cared.

Or rather, I cared, but it was too late.

I don’t even know if that last time I saw her if I told her I loved her.

Lamar has said if he had known that was the last time he would see her, he would stop the car, and go back in, maybe just see if we could stay the night there with her.

“I thought she’d live forever,” I said. “I thought I had time….”

Time to forgive her, time to let go, time to spend with her again.

It would never make up for the nearly 10 years that were lost; they were lost for good.

People have told me afterwards how much Granny loved me even though the past several years it didn’t seem that way.

She never said anything to me that was kind, never praised me that I heard.

Maybe she thought she had time, too.

Time to apologize for her hurtful words, time to make amends.

Just time.

It’s been said we never know what will happen, or when, and we don’t.

We may think we have tomorrow to make that call, to reach out and tomorrow may never come for either of us.

Forgive those who love you.

Release those old hurts.

Tell people how you feel – if they mean anything to you, they deserve the good, the bad and the ugly feelings because it shows you care.

And, before you go, hug them, and tell them just how much you love them, because it may be your very last time.

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