When I spoke to you on the phone yesterday, I told you I love and you are in my heart. You still are – you always will be. The grief we feel for you is complex. We are so grateful to know you are at peace, to believe you are with Papa. But we are so sad to no longer have you, to squeeze your hand, see your smile, to say I love you.
It was 5 years ago that Papa passed in his sleep on Valentines day. It came as a surprise to us all. You even shared with us that you were going to tease him for sleeping in longer for a change, before you found him. I know it was devastating for you. You were so stoic at his funeral; so strong in spite of your breaking heart. I know you have missed him every day since and I believe he has missed you too. You haven’t been awake this week, but I believe you knew, in some poetic way, that Valentines Day was just a few days ago. And as you took your last breath, with dad holding your hand, you left us to join Papa in paradise. To relive your favorite memories together, for eternity. To look down on us as we live our lives upholding the integrity you always demonstrated.
98 years, Noni. That’s amazing. You have seen so much and touched so many lives. You have given to our family in numerous ways. The family values you upheld is a foundation I will spend my life striving to emulate and build upon. I will forever be grateful to you and thankful for all you gave to us. The joy for cooking and baking and bringing people together. The care and attention as we were kids growing up. Attending every horrible recital, boring graduation, sweltering cross country and track meet – and all the while beaming with pride. When I moved to Northern California, at times I felt very far away from the family. But the awe and joy you (and Papa) showed me every time I came to visit, made me feel as connected and loved as ever. You always supported my ambitions. When others thought my marathon and triathlon endeavors were far fetched or crazy, you praised me with unwavering confidence. Having that reassurance, constantly, from you both was such a blessing. I have yet to meet another person with your same kindness.
When I look back on the time we spent together, a lot my memories feature your house. For a long time I thought it was the house itself that was special. The Norman Rockwell paintings lining the hallway walls from floor to ceiling, the clacking of Billiard balls in the pool room, the smells of fresh Italian sauce wafting from the kitchen, the gushers and fruit roll ups hiding in the highest cupboard, the books and games accumulated in the den, and the scorecard tracking the endless card games you let me win. All of these little things, and so much more, fill me with warmth and happiness and the actual feeling of home. But it wasn’t the things. It wasn’t the house. It was you. YOU are what made that such a special sanctuary. YOU are what fill our family with so much love.
Thank you for all of the amazing memories. Thank you for all of the love. Thank you for always accepting me. Thank you for being you and setting an example of the type of benevolence I hope to exude.
I will miss you. Forever.
Rest in Peace.