It has come, and like so many other sadly anticipated days it snuck up.
Has it really been a year?
There have been whispers over this year, her breath on my heart, her gurgling laugh in my ear, a sudden golden butterfly alighting in my sight. Purple crocus emerging after a never ending winter. Reminders of a love that wanted happiness and comfort for those around her.
I was guilty at her birthday of crying quietly, still wracked with guilt that Lil Bit would celebrate a birthday three days prior, never having held the hand that had so frequently held mine as a child.
I am guilty still of having a heavy heart when I plait up Miss H's long blonde hair, wondering how many perfect plaits does it take for this act to become a celebration of Gramma's love, and no longer a twang of guilt for me to remember I wasn't there at the end.
It has been a year of firsts for Little Bit, but also a sad division of life between having her and not.
Gramma was formidable, stern, but also fiercely protective and loving of her family. She had a quirky sense of humor, an unmistakable laugh and a hope, always a hope.
I still call it Gramma's house, it's been a year and I have not been back to California, and somewhere in my heart I know that when I do I will feel this loss anew.
We grieve differently as christians, having the hope of resurrection, but still we grieve, for the undone, unsaid, unremembered, unshared, unsavored. The unending conviction that not enough was done with what was given.
Like most of my childhood I recall mostly the times I fell short. I remember Gramma rebuking me as I climbed into the back seat of her car to be whisked away for a weekend rescue, "Summer, you really could do more to help your mother." I was 11. The disappointment, and quiet, not angry tone, brought me to silent tears, if she saw me in the rearview, she didn't comment.
I remember one summer trip we took to Gramma's house, I was supposed to sleep with her in her bed, and I chickened out at the door and crept to the very outside edge of my aunt's bed. I still can't tell you (I couldn't have been more than 5!) what it was that was so intimidating.
I don't want to bother you she would say at the beginning of our phone calls, since our visits had become so few with all of america between us...
It's no bother Gramma, I was just going to call you! (Literally, my hand had been on the phone)
"Kiss the babies" for me she would say at the end.
I will Gramma.
I will Gramma, I promise.