Back in November of last year I wrote a post entitled “Learning to Give Thanks through Death“. There was a lot of death surrounding me at that time, however, it reminded me of the wonderful people in my life and to be grateful for that. Now that death is paying another visit, I am choosing to find hope where many default to sadness. Don’t get me wrong, I am feeling sadness, but I am trying to focus on the positive.
I recently became a mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and last Monday I met my “Little” for the first time. A couple hours after I met my Little, I found out that someone I care for was dying. It was such a strange evening. I went from being completely ecstatic to feeling sadness and worry. Strangely, I felt that these two events were connected.
I have been wanting to be a mentor for so long, but it never fit in with my crazy life. My life is still pretty busy, but I made a commitment to myself to do this. I have an inherent need to help others, especially those less fortunate – not only in a monetary sense, but with family, health, or all of the above. I have felt this way for as long as I can remember. I remember as a child wanting to help other kids who were getting picked on. I remember trying to understand why some people were more favored than others. I could not understand why people were homeless or why people were picked on and bullied just because they were different. I knew then as much as I do now that I want to help people; I want them to know that someone out there cares for them regardless if they know them or not. I have a strong sense of empathy and want, rather, need to do what I can to help.
My Little and I were matched because our number 1 interest was gymnastics. During our first meeting, we went for a short walk around the block to get to know each other and the whole time we talked about gymnastics while she did cartwheels. It was like watching myself when I was that age. It was neat! We also discovered that we love all things purple. My Little changed my life during that meeting. The quick peeks she kept taking and the little smiles of hope she kept giving – it changed my life. Her grandma even said that she hasn’t seen her smile that much before. Here I am hoping to change someone else’s life and I am the one being changed.
Grammy was someone I met through my husband. She wasn’t blood related to him, but a surrogate grandma of sorts. She was so wonderfully kind, sweet, and hilarious. Ooh, and was she competitive when we played a game of Aggravation or cards! Don’t let her sweetness fool you, she will get you. What I loved about her was that from the first time I met her she made me feel like I was part of the family. My grandparents died many years ago, so it was nice to have a grandma again. The type of relationship she had with her husband of many many years is the type of relationship I strive for. I learned so much from watching them interact. The level of care and love was outstanding. She also didn’t sweat the small stuff. I know that’s totally cliche to say, but it’s true. Whatever health issues that comes with being 90 years old didn’t bother her. She understood and just kept on truckin’. If people were being dumb, she accepted it and moved on. No use in stressing. Even though I only knew Grammy for about 3 years, she made a huge impact on my life.
Today I found out and understood why I felt that there was a connection between these two – my Little and I had our first outing alone and Grammy moved on to her next journey. As one life was ending, a new one was beginning. Everything good that Grammy was and everything that I learned from her, I am going to embrace and pass on to my Little. I made a promise to myself and to my Little that I would be there for her and do my best to guide her in the right direction. My Little asked me today if I was her only Big Sister and didn’t have any other Littles. I told her that I was all hers and she said, “You’re all mine? REALLY?!” I said “Yep!” and she replied with a big “YAY!” and smile. Gosh darnit is she adorable.
I am choosing to find hope in the situation. I did have my moments of sadness and tears; they come and go. Although in the literal sense of the word “death,” a life may have ended, but Grammy’s legacy lives on. My relationship with my Little and our lives together, started today.