I have sent many cards to MawMaw over the years.
In fact, just a few weeks ago I sent her our annual Christmas card, complete with a picture of our annoyed dogs being forced to pose underneath the Christmas tree.
THE card I had been planning to send was a different kind of card.
When I left for college, my father sent me a letter telling me how proud he was of me and how he knew he never said it enough. It meant a lot to me, and inspired this addition to the 101 list.
The card I wanted to send MawMaw was a card of appreciation and a reminder of how much I admire her strength. In the past, I have written school essays about her, interviewed her once for a college history project, and considered submitting her story to various outlets. She has been through several tough battles, including the young death of her husband in his early 50’s, a courageous battle with aggressive breast cancer, a destructive house fire, and recovery from a stroke. All the while, she remained the same strong and beautiful woman we remained close to throughout our lives.
Unfortunately, this is not another check-off for me, but a new category altogether: a number on my list that will always remain unchecked.
MawMaw passed away unexpectedly last night. I am still reeling from the shock of this news. It’s nearly unimaginable that someone who has fought through and survived so much could be finally taken down by something as simple as a stomach bug, but the world works in mysterious ways. It is just a cruel reminder that life is fleeting, and time marches on whether or not we’re prepared, whether or not it’s anticipated, and whether or not I’ve chosen the right number to check-off on my list at the right time.
All of us are grateful for the time, though short, we were able to spend with her last week over the holidays. In hindsight, I wish I would have talked to her a little more that day, stayed a little longer, or even considered for a moment that it might be my last Christmas with her. It didn’t occur to me because she seemed strong, but as strength was her forte, I don’t know if I would have known the difference even if I had looked for it.