You know what, it can be hard sometimes to be so far from home. I miss out on a lot of big things happening to those that I love. This past month I have “met” two precious newborns, via Skype. I have had a bottle of wine delivered to my bestie, when all I wanted to do was pour her a glass myself while we talked over her difficult breakup. I have laughed and exchanged silly voice messages over Whatsapp with my sweet nephew, but still can’t adequately explain to him why I can’t come to his house to help build a fort or play cars. And I won’t even go into how many wedding invitations I have had to RSVP: regretfully declines.
Now this week I will be missing out on the funeral of my beloved Grandma Marilyn. Until now, my nearly 27 years of life have been blessed with only additions to our immediate family. Now I feel the sting of losing a loved one. Now I understand the pangs of regret: I wish I would have been there to spend more time with her before she left, and I wish I could be there now to hug my family as we mourn her absence.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that her life is a prime example of living life exactly the way you want to. My Grandma Marilyn didn’t care that most women only wear one shade of lipstick at a time. Dark pink on top and a shade of purple on the bottom, just the way she liked it. She never minded that clip-on earrings were really more for little girls. And she certainly didn’t let it bother her that the cigarettes she loved were destroying her mind and body. The doctors had been telling her for years to give them up, quit while she could still salvage a few more years. But she carried on, leaving multi-colored lipstick stains on her cigarette butts, because in some way that I will never understand, it made her happy. She was as stubborn as she was loyal. Loyal to her family, her God, and largely herself.
I hate missing out on my loved one’s important life events, but I think I would hate it even more if I missed out on my own. My heart craves the unknown; to get lost and have a few adventures. Time spent exploring makes up the majority of my most important life events. And while my grandma never did seem to understand my wanderings, I think she respected, and maybe even envied, them. They’re my way of leaving multicolored lipstick stains on cigarette butts.
Grandma, thank you for teaching me how to love and devour history books. Thank you for teaching me that recipes are best used as lose recommendations. Thank you for teaching me that the joke is funnier when you learn to laugh at yourself. Thank you for teaching me that bright colors are always in style. And most importantly, thank you for teaching me that it is okay to be stubbornly loyal to yourself.