I Wonder What Mae Audrey Would Think of Me
You were gone before I reached my 16th birthday.
That year was hard—
It was my sophomore year. We moved across the country.
It was my first taste of the depths of grief that life can bring.
You were gone quickly
Just like the setting sun,
Awe-inspiring, gorgeous, something worth beholding,
Which made it all the more difficult to say goodbye.
Cancer is a disease that ravishes the body
And the hearts of the family left behind.
I looked up one day and you were “grandmother,”
Invincible, beautiful, all-knowing, possessing the most warm embrace.
Suddenly, with the swiftness of a pendulum swinging,
Things changed. You changed.
This disease took the life out of you,
And it did so without remorse.
Thin, fragile, tired—those were my last memories of you.
You were dying, and I, naive, younger me, didn’t realize
That our last moments together were our last moments together.
I hold those memories close now and replay them like a highlight reel.
I’m not 15 anymore, grandmother.
I’m all grown up, and I think of you often.
At sunrises and sunsets, when I sit by the ocean,
I feel so small and, yet, so engulfed in grace.
I wonder if you’d be proud of the woman I’ve become.
I live in Los Angeles now, and I am a writer.
I know you’d be so happy to read these words,
and to see your little girl’s name in the byline.
I remember standing next to you at the kitchen sink,
You, scrubbing dishes and your arms covered in soap.
Me, standing on a crate so I could reach and dry wet dishes beside you.
The perfect duo—I loved being your sidekick, your little helper.
I am a lot like you. I think that’d make you smile.
I have such a sensitive heart.
I feel other people’s pain with an intensity.
I remember this being true about you too, but back then, I didn’t understand it.
I have learned to see my sensitive spirit as a gift,
As a weapon to be wielded for good, as something worth fighting to protect.
I have your gentle spirit.
I think you’d be proud of that.
I think of you every time I sit on a swing set,
And I remember me always asking you to push me higher.
That was me—always wanting to press the limits, to go higher, faster.
I’ve gone far grandmother—traveled the world and taken a lot of risks
that would both frighten you and make you smile.
I was your grandbaby, your princess and your 4.0 student or just “4.0,” as you called me.
I’m still all those things and a lot more.
I’m still just a bit sassy, too. I know this would bring you joy.
I speak my mind, and it still gets me in trouble sometimes.
I wonder what you would think of me now,
Then, I remember the swing set, you and me—
laughing, carefree, always pressing higher,
“Higher, higher, higher grandmother!”
I know you are proud of me, and you are always in my heart.
In loving memory of Grandmother, my first best friend and the person with whom I always felt home, Mae Audrey Taylor
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography