My grandmother, Nona, passed away in March from bladder cancer. When she was diagnosed, she made the decision not to undergo chemo or other types of treatment. And she never waivered from that decision.
Even though her death was not unexpected, it hit me much, much harder than I anticipated. There are still days when my grief is especially strong.
My birthday was one of those days.
My grandmother was never one for talking on the phone; all calls with her ended right around the 3-minute mark. You could be mid-sentence, and she'd say, "It was dear of you to call. Love you. Bye." And that was it. My family and I had a sort of unofficial contest to see who could keep her on the phone the longest. I hold the record of 4 minutes and 20 seconds. After one particularly brief conversation, I asked my parents if I should stop calling Nona. They assured me that she enjoyed the calls and mentioned to them how nice it was to hear from me.
Nona never called family members - we were always the ones to call her. The exception was birthdays. For as long as I can remember, she always, always called on my birthday and talked to me for exactly three minutes.
As I was getting dressed on Wednesday morning, it hit me out of the blue that this was the first time that I wouldn't be getting my birthday call from Nona. I sat down in the closet and had a good cry.
It's funny how when you lose someone you love, it's the little things you miss the most - like the annual phone call.