It seems I only come back here to occasionally post stories, and to post about death.
You're the last. The last of that generation of my immediate family. First Pa, then Papa. Then Grandma Marion. Now you.
I don't think it would be fair to deny that I was closest to you. I loved them all, often fiercely, but when I wanted to think of the warm safety and unconditional love, it was you and Papa, but especially you. You brushing my hair, you putting out the relish box, you playing itsy bitsy spider. You keeping the pillow I embroidered, you gasping over every silly drawing I made, you thinking everything I did was somehow magic. I don't know if I would have ever made it to adulthood, if not for you. I don't know if I ever would have managed any sense of self-confidence at all, if not for you, because you were the one who always believed in me.
I knew this was coming. I knew it ever since August 25th, 2009, when Rick told me Papa had died. He let me have my morning coffee and then broke it to me with the calm, unfettered truth, and even if I despise that man now, I will always be grateful for how he told me then. And I knew. I knew then that you would never survive it.
I just wish that Alzheimer's hadn't taken you away slowly; that it took until now to see you back to Papa's side.
I'm so glad you got to know Natalie and David. I'm so glad you came up to see Natalie born. I'm so, so glad you were there, Grandma, to hold them and love them even when you couldn't remember their names; that even then, you just knew they were yours. I'm so grateful for that. I've always been, and I remember thinking when I had each of them that it was such a good, good thing that they would come into the world with three of their great-grandparents, who would get to see these beautiful children I brought into the world.
I'm so grateful I had you in my life for as long as I did. I miss you all often, though I rarely say anything about it. I think about those days and those times, and I miss when we were a family. When anger didn't drive so many of us apart. When I knew that if I made it to 855 Hardesty, I would always have arms to hold me; always have Papa to call me Steffy, the only one who ever did, and always have you to hold my hands and comment on how nice and warm they were. And I would roll your rings on your finger, or look at the way the cross lay against the scar on your neck, or just wrap myself against you and when I was young, I would literally pray every night that you and Papa would always live, because I couldn't bear the world without you.
I don't know if I ever told anyone that.
In my darkest hours, in the darkest years of my pre-adult life, you were my light.
I love you. I don't know if there's a heaven. I don't know if there's anything that comes next. But if there is, I hope someday I'll see you there.
Tell Papa I said hi, and I miss him. I love you so.