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note to self: i’ll be there for you, always

written june 6, 2021. Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash I have always looked for myself in other people. I think the idea was that they would somehow hold the pieces of me that I felt were missing. That maybe, if I wrapped my identity up in theirs enough, we would somehow make a whole person. It's not healthy to live like this, but I did it anyway — burning through relationships and searching for something I couldn't quite name. It was never enough, not to be myself, but it was never enough to latch my identity to other people, either. I got close, several times — I thought I had reached the pinnacle of self discovery. I thought I had completed myself. But in the end, relying on other people to help build yourself is never a viable way to do things. It's only recently that I've started to become comfortable with the idea of being enough, as I am, on my own. Several years ago, in this same position, I would have searched for another person to attach my identity onto,

you taught me the courage of stars

On one of our most recent Christmases, there was a bonfire, and I wanted to go see it. I almost didn't, but then my beloved grandma lent me her own coat and pushed me out the door.

I'm incredibly grateful. Without her, I wouldn't have one of my favorite memories, which is sitting around a bonfire and looking up at the stars. The picture above reminds me of what the sky looked like that night.

That was the kind of person Grandma was: a relentless encourager. She inspired everyone to live boldly. I can only hope to be like her.

On Sunday, we went to the mountains to where my grandma used to live. I believe it was one of her favorite places, and it seemed like touches of her were around every corner. 

I'm not sure what exactly to say. Her service was on Saturday. It was a time of mixed emotions. If I could sum it up, I'd say this whole thing has been good in some ways and impossibly hard in others. I never wanted to lose her. But, since I did have to, this is one of the best ways she could have gone. I am immeasurably grateful for the visits we spent and the time we had with her.

But it's hard not to go to the mountains and see her everywhere. Especially at her old house. The decorations she put up; the things exactly as she left them. It made it hard to breathe some of the time. I didn't cry until I got home. I had been okay while we were up there, but when we got back, I felt really awful about the visit.

Now that I've had time, I'm grateful for the visit. We pulled off by the pond near their old house, and I sat there taking pictures and the water calmed my soul. I'm sure Grandma walked past it tons of times. I wonder what she thought when she was looking at it, too.

It's incredibly hard. I'm going to say that. I miss her so much. I want to follow that up with "I'm glad she's in a better place," because I am. But some days, it doesn't quite dull the hurt. Actually, most days, it doesn't even touch it.

Life resumes to normal tomorrow, and we'll keep going forward, like we always do. In a way, it's weird for life to continue because there will be a hole that will never be fixed. Even at her own funeral, someone was missing--her. And I feel that absence almost every minute of every day of my life. I probably will for a very long while. She was too special to not be missed.

She has been one of the most important parts of my life, and I'm so glad to have known her. I'll probably always see that pond and the mountains, and think of her and how much she loved life, and, as the song Saturn by Sleeping at Last says, how beautiful it is that we even exist.

You taught me the courage of stars before you left. 
How light carries on endlessly, even after death. 
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite. 
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist. 

I couldn’t help but ask 
For you to say it all again. 
I tried to write it down 
But I could never find a pen. 
I’d give anything to hear 
You say it one more time, 
That the universe was made 
Just to be seen by my eyes.

-- saturn, by sleeping at last
(thanks so much to caroline 
for sending this to me!)

The above song was sent to me by a friend right after I got home from the mountains. I feel like it was written for Grandma. Because... Grandma Ruth, this song is exactly what you did. You taught me the courage of stars, teaching me the love of God. You showed me how beautiful life truly is, and with shortness of breath explained the infinite. I didn't have a pen to write it all down, but I will always remember.

Thank you for all you've said to me, and what you taught me by just being there. Love you.

last two photos copyright sky destrian 2014.


  1. and I are going through something similar right now... my grandma passed away after four years of battling cancer just two weeks ago. I was gone at camp at the time, so I really didn't feel the after-effects of her death, but now that I'm home for good, they're starting to hit hard.

    Our relationship with my grandmother was never good--we never did anything together, and when we went to her house, it was always, "Here's some ice cream; go watch a movie now." She was a good grandma from a spoiling standpoint, but from a nuturing one, she missed the mark. And yet, even though I don't have many good memories with her, it still hurts to see my mom be sad and crying. And to see her stuff gathered in already dusty boxes.

    But it helps to remember that she wasn't happy here. She was hurting and tired of life and was ready to go home to see Jesus. And now she's there. So when I think about that it hurts a little less.

    God Bless you, Sky!! Such a beautiful and well-written post! Love it! :)

  2. Wow, what an awesome grandma you have! I feel a lot of respect for her, just from reading your post, even though I have never met her.

  3. It's so difficult to loose someone who was close to you, so difficult to be suddenly missing that part of you that has been there for years and years, you I think, for me, you described the absence, how it's acutely there every moment and it's so, so hard, really well. I'm so sorry that you've experienced this loss, Sky. I'm glad you've got such wonderful memories, still, though. xx


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