365 days without Yiayia. 365 days missing her contagious smile. 365 days wishing I had more time to spend with her. 365 days wondering if she’s watching over me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.
I knew my Yiayia for 27 years. I made her Yiayia and she made me Marinike (her nickname for me). She helped welcome me into this world, watched me grow through my adolescence, stood by my side at my wedding and was there for me as I experienced my first year of motherhood.
From the get go, I knew how special my Yiayia was. We had a close bond and enjoyed each other’s company so much. We’d laugh and cry, and she’d tell me the most beautiful stories about her childhood and how she fell in love with my Papou. We’d shop and eat, play cards, and have sleepovers falling asleep to “I Love Lucy” on the little white television in her bedroom. Countless memories flood my brain. So many moments of love and happiness, yet I still feel like we didn’t get enough time together.
That’s probably the hardest part about losing someone. Wishing they could stay on this earth a little longer. For me, it was wanting my Yiayia to be here to meet Emory and to watch Peyton grow up. Wanting her to be here when we move into our new house and just wishing we could sit around and talk to each other.
I spent a lot of this year wishing I could love her more, see her more and just be with her more, thinking I didn’t know what I had. But as I look back on my memories with her, I knew how great and special she was in the moment and I am so thankful for her memory. Losing her has caused me to love and appreciate her even more than I ever thought possible. Looking back on her life and the way she impacted me, I can’t help but be even more blown away by the woman she was and the countless sacrifice she made for all of us.
There will always be a part of me that will want more time with her. Every day, since her passing certain things like the weather or a certain smell reminds me of her and I experience so many moments wondering if she is with me. And she is.
Even as I sit here, in my kitchen with the windows open and the smell of humidity and dampness in the air, I think of her and know she’s there. She brings me the memory of the summer nights we spent in her kitchen talking, laughing, eating and playing cards. Dressed in her mumu, holding up her cards and pursing her lips as she thought about which ones to put down. Then her face would light up, with that contagious smile I loved so much when she’d put down her final card to win the game.
Yiayia, thank you for loving me so well and filling my heart and head with countless joyful memories of just being together. “I’ll carry you with me until I see you again.”