I had trouble falling asleep last night. I tossed and turned until almost 2 a.m., which isn’t like me. Something was off, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
Today was busy. Passover preparations and major WordPress tech issues left little time for me to be alone with my thoughts. But I knew what day it was — all day. It wasn’t until after I sent an email to all SOLSC participants just before 9 p.m. this evening that I had the chance to reflect on the importance of today.
On March 24th, 2007, my Grandma passed away. As a result, she missed a joyful year of events (i.e., my graduation from Teachers College, my 30th birthday, and my wedding), which made losing her — my final living grandparent — painful. My grandfather (her husband) died at 80 years old in March 1990, which was a few months before my Bat Mitzvah. Knowing that I was going to have to navigate a banner year without my Grandma made her death feel like déja vû.
My Grandma learned how to use a computer & email when she was in her mid-80s so we affectionally nicknamed her “Ebubbey.” Ebubbey passed away at 92 years old with all of her faculties. On her deathbed she predicted Barack Obama would win the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008! Perhaps she was also clairvoyant since most people thought Hillary Clinton would win the nomination.
Speaking of Ebubbey’s deathbed, to this day I am thankful my former principal allowed me to drop everything — in the midst of parent-teacher conferences — so I could fly to Florida to be with Ebubbey in the final days of her life when I learned how ill she was. It still brings me peace to know I spent the final days of Ebubbey’s life beside her in the hospital. Besides talking about presidential politics, I had the chance to atone for being a snotty and impatient teenager. (She forgave me.) In addition, I used all of the days the NYC Department of Education gave for the death of a grandparent so I could sit shiva with my mom after Ebubbey passed away. Not a single one of my students’ parents complained to me about missing six days of school or having their parent-teacher conference rescheduled. These things made the loss of my grandmother a little easier to navigate.
Isabelle is named after Ebubbey. While she looks nothing like my grandmother, there are times she makes the same facial expressions. How is this possible? I often wonder. Ebubbey died nearly four years before Isabelle was born! I have photos, dating back to the time Isabelle was 11 months old, that make me do a double-take since it’s as if I can see Ebubbey in Isabelle’s face.
You may know how the Slice of Life Story Challenge began in my fourth-grade classroom, but you probably don’t know why it’s in March. I’ll tell you, in case you’ve ever wondered why it’s in one of the longest months of the year.
Nearly 11 months after Ebubbey died, which was a mere two months after my wedding), I was still missing her even though I knew Ebubbey lived a long life. I needed a distraction so what better way than to throw myself into writing alongside my students daily for a month while attempting to cobble together a challenge for adults online!?!?! March of 2008 was a little less sad since I was so busy teaching, writing, and blogging that it made the first anniversary of my grandmother’s death (and the 18th anniversary of my grandfather’s death) easier.
I try to stay true to the original mission of the challenge by writing small moment stories for my slice of life blog posts. However, today I needed to share a little bit about my grandmother on the 14th anniversary of her passing.
I’ll be back with a typical slice of life story tomorrow.