A Great and Beautiful Loss

On March 27, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. I witnessed my husband’s grandmother take her last breath.

Mima, as she would be known to family and friends alike, had been declining in health for the last year or two. At 93 years of age, she took pride in being the family’s matriarch. A mother of 3 daughters and 1 son, she helped raise her 8 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. She lived long enough to meet her 16th great-grandchild, born just 6 weeks ago.

I met Mima shortly after I started dating my husband, and for the last 22 years, I grew to love her as much as I had my own grandparents.

Me and Mima in 2006

I will always remember Mima’s love for The Family Fued and Wheel of Fortune (which she called “la ruedita”) and the gummy Spongebob “Crabby Patties” you could find at Halloween.  I will never forget how she loved to snuggle with my dogs, how she would all but run around the house in her walker, how she preferred hard bread to soft, used the same tupperware drinking cup everyday, how she talked in her sleep, and sat on two stacked throw pillows on the couch to watch her shows.

Hubby and Mima in 2005

On March 27, shortly after posting my last blog, hubby texted me that Mima had only minutes left. Hospice had been at her home for a couple of days, and she had shown little response in the last 24 hours.  I rushed out, praying I would arrive in time. When I arrived, Mima was lying in bed surrounded by her daughters, grandsons and granddaughter.  I sat next to her bed on the floor, and just minutes later we watched her take her last breath.  Hubby’s cousin, a firefighter/EMT, immediately checked her pulse and it was gone.

She passed peacefully at home surrounded by her loved ones.

My daughter and Mima in 2005

On Saturday afternoon, we all gathered together for her funeral.  She looked beautiful–and young.  Our children, Mima’s great-grandchildren, wept, kissed her, and rubbed her hands.  They told her how much they loved her and were going to miss her. They also laughed together, as kids do, and ate cookies in the lounge area. These beautiful beings, who would not be here if it weren’t for Mima, are a reminder of her importance to this family.

The kids with Mima and Pipo in 2006

The funeral home was filled with dozens of beautiful arrangements from family and friends. The priest gave a lovely service and sang a beautiful hymn which brought many to tears.  On Sunday, we had a small graveside service and paid our final respects. The grandsons acted as pallbearers. The great-grandchildren sat in the chairs under the tent and each of us tossed a flower into her grave. We stayed together until the casket was lowered, the hole was filled, and the sod replanted.

My son and Mima in 2007

In the end, everything was as beautiful as anyone could have ever hoped for, from her peaceful passing, to the services celebrating her life.

I can’t thank enough every person who was there for us, and especially there for my mother-in-law and her sisters this week. Thank you for the food, washing dishes, bringing old photos and sending flowers and cards. Thank you mostly for your presence.

Thank you also to my friends who texted and messaged me, and especially for our friends who came by to pay their respects. It means so much to know you care.

Mima, siempre estarás en nuestros corazones. Te quiere mucho tu nieta, Yvette.

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