I woke up very early on Wednesday morning. As soon as my eyes opened, I thought of my beloved godmother Annie. My mom called me quite early last year on April 26 to let me know that Annie had passed away in the middle of the night. It wasn’t a surprise. I had been visiting her every two weeks for the past few months to say my goodbyes. But it was still a shock. My Annie was gone, and I was devastated.
But I had no time for sadness immediately. I had business to take care of. I had told my supervisor and all the principals of my schools about Annie’s illness and that I would be taken an extended absence after her passing. When I got off the phone with my mom, I opened my computer and began cancelling appointments for the rest of the week. I decided not to cancel that day’s visit. I really wanted to see the principal about a project we were working on, and needed another day before I would head to Jersey anyway. After my meeting, I stopped at the IHOP for a comfort breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausage.
One year later, I still miss Annie. The grief has definitely changed. I am not overwhelmed with sadness and despair as I was for most of last summer. I smile and laugh and enjoy life. But I miss her presence in my life, especially as I prepare to move to the West Coast and begin my doctoral program. Annie would have been so thrilled and so proud of me.
Actually, Annie would have ben my first confidante about my plans to go back to school. I would have talked through my options with her and shared my struggles prepping for the GRE. She would have celebrated with me when my scores came in, and my essays were finally ready. Annie would have comforted me when those rejection letters came in the mail, reminding me that I only could attend one school. I only needed one acceptance. The rest were about my ego. Annie would have shouted for joy when I got into Berkeley and Stanford. I would have bought her a t-shirt at the bookstore, when I bought ones for my mom, grandma, sister, nephew and niece. In five years, when I am hooded, I will really be sad that Annie can’t be there to share in that moment of achievement. She was there for my birth, my wedding, and every graduation ceremony. That’s the hardest part of missing her at this point--all the celebrations she will miss.
Annie is my role model in so many areas, but especially in going after her dreams. She packed up her entire New York City life when she retired in 1984 and moved to Florida. She stayed there another 20 years working for the city and earning a second pension. In her 60s, she decided to become a paraprofessional and worked with special needs children. Annie loved to travel, and has probably been to 40-50 countries. When I was a little girl, she would tell me about her trips around the world, and I dreamed of following in her steps one day. She was so proud of me when I started taking trips abroad, and always encouraged my wanderlust.
Annie also seemed to always know the right thing to say to me. She would listen as I shared my hopes and fears—and acknowledged my joy and pain. She never told me to not think or feel whatever I was thinking or feeling, even when I was in despair over the end of my marriage and y early struggles managing my lupus. Yes, Annie reminded me of God and my faith, but it came off supportive and encouraging, not corrective or clichéd. She was my first therapist before I started seeing professionals, and I was able to begin the healing process simply by talking about my pain. Annie just seemed have the right words at the ready during every conversation. She would know just what to say to me right now when so many details of my transition have not yet been worked out. She would know just what to say to allow me to feel all my anxieties and fears—and remain steadfast on God’s power.
I am trying to be grateful for every one of the 41 years I had Annie in my life. But I still want her back so much. I want more time, more conversations, more advice, and more of her. I want my Annie. Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant would tell me plan A is not an option. So, I need to “kick the shit out of option B.” That's my goal for the next few months and years. I want to thrive, even without my dear Annie.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.