I was nearly glued to my computer during the weeks she was in the hospital; refreshing facebook every few seconds, hoping for an update to appear. That is what it is like when you are on the other side of the country.
The thing that was so beautiful and comforting in my grandma's last days, was all of the family surrounding her. She had four children and what can sometimes seem like hundreds of grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all of us were there with her in some way, even if just on the phone for late night prayers and singing.
All this family meant she didn't have to be at the hospital or hospice alone.
All this family meant no one was left grieving alone.
It is a particular type of community, family. I have it. I have a family in my husband and daughter. And I have my mom. And I have all those extended relatives who live on the other side of the country. But I am, in very real ways, alone.
I am an only child. I can't help but think that if my mom landed in the hospital, there would be no siblings or adult grandchildren to carry that load with me. I'm it.
And my daughter, one day, she will be it.
I didn't set out to be the mom of an only child. Life just happened that way. She is eleven years old, and in many ways the sibling train has passed. As much as she asks for a little sister or brother, and as much as her father and I would love to giver her one, I don't know that there could be any real closeness with that eleven year age difference. It isn't like there would be late nights snuggled under the covers with a flashlight, whispering while your parents think you are sleeping. Or teaming up to convince mom and dad to buy a trampoline for the back yard.
Is that even what siblings do? I don't know. It is probably an idealized dream born from years of asking my own parents for a little sister. But it doesn't really matter, because a sibling is something my daughter doesn't have right now, and very possibly never will.
This is where the mom guilt comes in.
I see myself as the one who has relegated her to a life lived mostly alone. Of course, I dismiss the fact that she is not alone now, in our family of three, and the fact she will most likely build a family of her own one day. That she will have friends and lots of love in her life. Those rational thoughts have no place in the mom-guilt world. No, in mom-guilt world, she is eating cold soup out of a can and mumbling about the next word search in her puzzle book. All because she doesn't have a sibling. Never mind the fact I've never eaten cold soup out of a can in my sibling-less world.
These thoughts about family are nearer to the front of my mind now. When my mom tells me she had a rough week at work or isn't feeling well, I'm keenly aware of the distance between us in a way I wasn't before. I know that in her world, I'm it. I'm the kid she has (even though I'm not a kid anymore).
I now realize how much my grandma was the one who held all of our extended family together. Without her here, I see those connections slowly slipping. It makes me sad. I want to nurture those relationships, to make an effort to be close and share our lives with each other. I want all of us to be on each other's must-call lists for big and small moments in our lives. I want conversations, and laughter, and memories. Not just for me, but also for my daughter; who is an only child, but doesn't have to be alone.
*NaBloPoMo - Day 5.