writing letters to the ones i miss

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetYou’d sit cross-legged and keep your foot up like a hook. Each of us took turns sitting on your hook-held foot as you swung us back and forth, holding our hands in yours. All the while singing…

Κούνια, μπέλα, έπεσ’ η κοπέλα. Έσπασαν τα πίατα, τα ‘καναν κομάτια… (and then slowly:) ένα, δύο, τρία — 

ΌΠΑ! you’d say a little louder, as you popped your foot up and pulled us into your lap. You must’ve done this a thousand times in your lifetime. I must’ve watched you do it to my sisters and cousins too many times to count. It was a sad day when I was too big to let you rock me and then pull me up to your embrace.

Oh Pappou, it’s been a year. And somehow, I thought goodbye would be easier. Somehow I thought, that surely in a year, I would somehow not feel you still lost. I think you were this stronghold in my life that I felt would never change. You would always be home when I came to visit. Always sitting on your couch and waiting for a kiss on your cheek.

You were the only person who ever called me Christina (as a nickname) and I was okay with it because that’s how it was. I mean, I knew without a fault that when mom put you on the phone for me to say hi to, you’d ask me two things: 1) how are you, and 2) βρήκες σκορδόσπιτο? With me always answering good, then with a roll of my eyes and laugh, not yet.

Or what about that time last summer when you weren’t doing too well and I was with you? I was literally sitting in the chair right beside you and then, OUT OF NOWHERE, you stood up and rushed over to the table across from us. Apparently looking for your watch! You scared the life out of me because I was sure I wasn’t going to get you back in your chair without falling. Yet, we managed and then later, when you asked for your shaving machine… You told me in humor, “I promise I won’t get up and scare you again.”

Despite your quiet self, you knew how to get in a good tease. Oh gosh, you loved to tell your Greek jokes to visiting Americas! Bless their hearts because the jokes were never funny in English but they tried. And we all loved hearing you share them.

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been a whole year since I’ve been able to give you a hug, kiss your cheek, sit in your living room with you.

So many things have changed.

I want to go back to December 31, 2015 when we all sat in our dark (the power was out in our neighborhood in Thessaloniki, on New Years Eve!) living room together. I think we had the fire going, maybe. As darkness filled the house and the new year approached, with many challenges in store… I don’t know, there was a peace in my heart that night. With no interruption from any sort of technology we sat in darkness and sang old hymns with you in the lead.

I can still picture your brows knitting together as you would sing. Always so concentrated. Always so faithful. Always so loving.

It may be a year and almost two days since you passed away, but… you are not forgotten. I think about you so very often. Though, I am thankful that you are no longer in pain – nor missing yiayia either. Gosh, this missing I feel for you really puts into perspective how much you must have missed her after you lost her. Thank you for being such a good pappou to your kids and grandkids.

We all miss you dearly.

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as the song goes: would you lie with me and just forget the world? (maybe this post is all over the place but it’s kay)

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMom and I traveled down to Athens this week to stay with my great aunt for a few days. She’s 84 and life isn’t really too kind to those whose age is a high number.

Three days, no wifi. Ooph, it was hard! My millennial self struggled. I can’t say I was missed but being online is a daily routine my habitual self didn’t know how to live without. I mean, obviously, I cheated a couple times! I went to a nearby coffee shop to check my social media and put in a couple job applications. Satisfying that compulsion to feel connected through the interwebs.

I discovered there are benefits to this disconnect though…

My great aunt, Irene, reminds me of my grandma. They’re sisters (after all), three years apart, both relatively short women who married tall men. They share a similar spunkiness, a tendency to keep their fridges full, and both very kind hearted. Their commonalities are strong, and sometimes I wonder if when I get older people will say the same for me and my sisters.

But, grandma passed away 10 years ago… and aunt Irene has been not a substitute but a nice reminder of her sister.

Anyways, yesterday, as aunt Irene woke up from her nap, I ended up getting in bed with her to snuggle. It was an action that ended up surprising us both. We enjoyed it a lot and each time I got up for a moment, she’d call for me to come back. We spent a good hour and half laying there as she shared stories about when she was my age, about her sister, and about her late husband, Harris.

It was so neat to feel the world drift away and hear her talk. She told me about Harris and how he wanted to marry her from the moment he set his eyes on her. She lost him over 20 years ago and her heart still aches for him.

Love is this wild thing that I don’t know much about it. At least, not the “in love” part. I know about loving people and I try very hard to love people well, even if I don’t always succeed. But lately, I’ve thought about love a lot and about loving someone deeply and losing that person… and then what’s left?

A heart that’s broken, lost, and confused?

How do you ever move forward

How do you let go

The Christian answer in my head is: God will heal those wounds. And the thing is, he does… sure, but sometimes, I don’t think the whole pain ever leaves. Not really. It’s a thorn that remains in your heart, right? Or so it feels. A thorn that stabs you every day, even if its hollow and faint.

I just don’t think such a pain can ever truly, completely stop.

Perhaps because hearts are made to break. They are fragile and marked by their ability to feel – everything. So, sometimes, when they are shattered… those pieces can only attempt to recreate what they once were. It’s like when you break your ribs, right? Those bones can never heal as they were before but mend within their brokenness. They will create something new of which you are forever reminded that they were once deformed and now changed.

I don’t know, loving is hard but as I laid there listening to my aunt tell me story after story and share her hurt, here’s one thing I know: I’d lay on a damn bed any day with a person I care for and love, just to spend a few moments forgetting about the world.

Maybe that’s selfish, but maybe it’s not… Yet, maybe it’s just savoring those quiet moments that tend to be far and wide apart.

breaking the mold of a pleaser

I live in a world of pleasers and I myself, am a pleaser.

There’s nothing wrong with being a pleaser.  Not when I don’t become expandable.  However, I have a problem when people expect me to be a pleaser.  When they silently judge me the moment I say no.

The problem is I get into molds and I have a hard time breaking out.

When I’m without a job, without a purpose I become lazy.  I don’t contribute and I slowly begin to fade into mindless entertainment.  It’s easier to do nothing.  Meanwhile, each day passes without me being able to halt time.

I’m not okay with this attitude, but it happens.

The days I do decide to contradict this pattern, are good days.

However, in my slow dwindling, I’m not silently begging others to find ways to awaken my time.  Even in my dwindling, I am satisfied with this notion of laziness because I know it will soon end.  I won’t allow myself to stay here forever, I’ll get up and eventually move on.

Eventually.

Today, I’ve only been outside twice.  I went out to sit and read for a while.  Later my aunt, took it upon herself to spice up my day.  She asked me to accompany her on a trip to Target and then picking up my cousins from school.  A filler trip, really.

I said no.

I didn’t want to go.

Her reply was, “You’re becoming a hermit!”

It was sarcastic and she laughed.  This side of my family is heavy on the sarcasm scale.  I can be quite the sassy mouth myself, but I really do prefer a life without constant sass.

I attempted to laugh.

“I already am one,” I quickly corrected her.

So much for being a pleaser, right?  Looks like I’ve learned the word most adults forget as they get older.  A word children wouldn’t know how to live without.

The word is no.

animal lover

I’ve always had difficulties writing about her – my γιαγιά (Greek grandma).

I still do.

She’s this enigma, I cannot seem to solve.  I remember bits and pieces of her.  How I loved her, but now feel and believe it wasn’t enough.  I never knew her, really.  I know about her but not her – not her feelings, her thoughts, her emotions.

She was pretty bad ass (words I shouldn’t use, but am using), constantly on top of things.  My cousins and I called her Rambo and rightly so.  She had this special ability of knowing everything … or so it seemed to us little people.  She was kind, but didn’t let people run her over.

She once told my sisters and I, how we would get gastroenteritis by eating too many sunflower seeds.  At the time, we had been watching TV with a huge bowl of sunflower seeds.  Without a thought to disagree we dumped all seeds resting in our palms back in the bowl.  She took the bowl from us and went to the counter – only for all three of us to catch her stuffing her small apron pockets with sunflower seeds, giggling.  All together we called out, “Γιαγιά!!!!” realizing full well she had been teasing us.

She used to close her eyes during almost each sermon.  Her response when questioned or scolded for such an act was: “I’m just resting, I still hear everything the preacher says.”  She always seemed very peaceful by such an act.  She used to bite our cheeks in the morning, instead of actually kissing us.

Nowadays, what makes me think of her the most are animals.  Today, I went downstairs to my grandparents balcony (it’s still too odd to say, only my grandpa’s and cut out my grandma), there’s a kitty we’ve been feeding and I was attempting to get her to like me.  I eventually left, after spending about twenty minutes trying to pet the little thing.

And it struck me, while I stood on my grandma’s balcony… I realized something, I often neglect to pay attention.  As I made all kinds of gentle noises to the kitty, I remembered how animal loving my γιαγιά had been.  How I’d heard stories of cats after cats flocking to her balcony for food she so happily gave them.  I remembered the night when my sisters and I found a cute little puppy stuck in the neighbor’s fence.  My γιαγιά had told us to hide it out on our balcony and not tell our mom for the night.  She couldn’t bear not loving cats, dogs, birds… The same way, I couldn’t bear to not love this cute little kitty.

Excited by this revelation, I wasted no time in keeping it to myself.  I told my mom.  I told her I found a link with my γιαγιά – a link she and my sister’s share as well.  A link I believe I needed to find.  One to remind me of her, because I’m slowly beginning to allow myself to forget.

I’m not good with memories of the past and of my childhood, perhaps that’s where my difficulty lies.  I have a problem writing about her because I find, I can talk about her but I’m not sure how to show her to anyone.

Yet… she’s more than written words, similar to my παππού (Greek grandpa) – maybe one day, I’ll find the right words for the both of them.

as years spin over

Life is flimsy and weird – but each day I realize,
I’m very proud of you.
Over the years, I’ve seen you grow and of course
there have been times of true maturity and others of not.
However, when your body went under
that water, I couldn’t help myself, but feel proud.
Not only because you’ve grown up into a man –
all your family can be astonished by – but rather,
you’re becoming a man with heart.
The bubble baths,
the playing with dolls,
the Harry Potter-playing-school days,
may have passed and you may
be taller than me now, but those three short years
I surpass you by will always seem longer.
For you are my little cousin, brother
and watching you grow up makes me happy more than you’ll ever know.