Friday, February 29, 2008

Celia Juanita Baggett (1917-2005)

My grandmother passed away in 2005. June 16, 2005 to be exact - the same date as one of my best friends' birthdays. I live in her house now... and sometimes I think my mother's supposition (that I decided to live here because I could not yet let go of her) may have a ring of truth to it.

I still miss her very much. I used to cry every time I went into the linen closet because it still smelled like her closet - the one I had grown up with and grabbed towels out of every summer for as long as I could recall. Even though I use a different detergent than she did... the towels still come out of that closet smelling like Ma-Maw's towels. For the first year we lived here, I'd stand in the shower every so often, a towel pressed to my face, crying and dripping wet, until the wave of grief passed.

It still happens sometimes. I will think of her or see something in the house that belonged to her and it will all come rushing back. The finality of her absence and the way in which her death progressed will settle around my chest and my eyes will start to well up, and I'll try to think of something positive about her or remember something funny instead of focusing on the fact that I never got to say good-bye or that she will never know my daughter.

Death is. Undeniable, unavoidable. Natural, unquestionable. Circumstances may differ... and I know and love several people who have had to let go of family members much too soon.

I feel very lucky she lived such a long life. I had a tremendous opportunity to know her, love her, and learn from her. And now I live in her home... the one my grandfather and great-grandfather built and worked on throughout their lives. It breathes the life of my family - past and present - and unites my childhood and adulthood under one roof. We feel protected here. We love this home. For me, it felt familiar and like a part of me before we ever moved into it. And when I'm here, I can hear my grandmother's voice more clearly than from anywhere else.

And that's an incredible gift... one that will indeed be difficult to let go of.

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