There I was sitting in the pew of the church waiting for the wedding to start. I was surrounded by my family, and everyone was chatting away. All lighthearted talks and laughter. Then I heard her say, “Frieda passed away.” The laughter was immediately sucked from my body. My smile was broken, and the lightheartedness was taken away. The tears began to fall and I felt like I was suffocating. The walls were closing in, I couldn’t breathe…I had to get out of there. Without saying a word I stood up and fled. As quickly as I could I ran outside the church. Being outside wouldn’t make the truth disappear, but it felt like my only option. I couldn’t stand the stares. I couldn’t control my reaction and I needed open space. I needed room to digest what I had just heard, and all the feelings I was having simply couldn’t fit inside. They were too big and too severe to be confined.
I had known this day was coming for years. As a small child I remember when the phone calls would come in letting us know Frieda was in this hospital and for days I would be walking on eggshells expecting every call to be the one saying she was gone.
After we moved away we received a letter. Frieda told all about how her diabetes was gone. It was a miracle that no one could explain, and not only that, but she was going to get a heart transplant. It was wonderful news. We continued to write back and forth, and after her heart transplant she wrote to us about feeling 16 and being outside jumping rope. Just the thought of this brought uncontrollable laughter.
With all of these health issues, and things she had overcome throughout her life I shouldn’t have been so shocked to hear the news, but I was. Nothing could have shocked me more. I don’t know if it is because after overcoming so many things she had become invincible, or if it was because I thought that if I believed it strong enough I could keep it from happening, or if it was just the simple fact that I loved her so much I didn’t want to imagine a life without her in it. No matter what the reason was I can honestly say I was shocked and devastated.
I had learned so much from this amazing woman, and I didn’t want her to be gone. I wanted to go visit her when I was in town. I wanted to continue writing back and forth. I wanted to call her number and hear “Hawk’s residence” when she answered. That was all gone now.
I knew she would forever live in my memories. I knew no one could take those from me, but I also knew it would never be the same.
That was the day I found at my grandma died. Frieda wasn’t my mom’s mom, and she wasn’t my dad’s mom. In fact she wasn’t related to me at all, but that didn’t matter. We loved each other the way any grandmother and granddaughter would, and because of that I will always know that blood isn’t always thicker than water. Sometimes we get to choose the family we weren’t born with, and Frieda and I chose each other.
It started when I was a baby, as she held me and we stared into the others face her daughter simply said “Oh I can see it now”, and ended with me crying before a wedding, but what happened in the years between is where the story rely happens. The story of how a person I loved and admired grew to be my grandma. The story of how I learned that blood isn’t always thicker than water, and the way I learned that sometimes God lets us chose our own family, and I am glad he let me choose Frieda to be part of mine.
*** This is just a piece of the story of my relationship with Frieda. It is a story I am writing, but is still a work in process. It is filled with love and emotion so it is something I can only work on in small doses. You will get to see pieces from time to time, and I hope you all enjoy reading about an amazing part of my life, and my relationship with a person I loved and admired.****