I am running out of memories yet see you everywhere

Several+strawberries+ornaments+hang+in+various+places+around+our+christmas+tree.

Several strawberries ornaments hang in various places around our christmas tree.

Dear Sadie Ann, don’t let the strawberries be the only thing I have left.

December 4th marked four years.

Four years since I lost you for good. Over eleven for when I lost you the first time.

All of my memories of you were after your mind slipped away. I remember sitting in the van next to you in the parking lot of your husband’s favorite restaurant. You were drawing on my dark cerulean denim jeans with your long fingernails. You told me you were drawing a sheep, and you kept delicately tracing it over and over again.

I remember being inside of the same restaurant with chips and salsa as appetizers. You took your straw out of your drink and put it in the salsa bowl. It wasn’t long before we caught you—just long enough for you to take a sip. To this day, we mention it when we are at the restaurant, and we laugh.

I wish you could laugh with us.

I wish you could laugh with us when someone recalls you imitating my brother at Christmas. You pulled your hood over your head and mimicked him. We were in Florida at your old trailer. We sold it when you went to the nursing home.

Even though I barely knew you, I’m trying to find you everywhere I go.”

There is a photograph of you hanging in our kitchen. Your husband was wearing a duck baseball cap while you wore a Santa hat. You wore the same exact duck baseball cap as your husband when sitting with your friend—she wheeled herself into your room one day wearing a flowered hat.

My grandparents sitting in my grandmother’s room at the nursing home wearing festive hats.

You painted flowers on plates. In your old house, all your handpainted plates were hung upon the walls. In my room, I have one. It has small, lilac-colored petals with magenta and sage leaves elegantly smeared across the eggshell sheen of the small plate. Your friend gave it to me at your funeral.

I cried.

I was only ten. You were in my life for ten years, but I don’t even have ten memories. 

I have tried to shut out the memories of your final months. I have tried to shut out the feelings from the day you passed, but I can’t. 

My whole family on your side rushed to the nursing home. They knew it would happen soon. Your last moments were spent with your two sons, their wives, and only one of your grandchildren. My brother and I were left at home that day. My mom called my brother to tell him—he was given the duty to tell me. I think that’s the only time I hugged him, and he hugged me back.

Your death didn’t hit me as hard then as it does now. I can’t help thinking of all the memories I could have had. I don’t care if my brother and cousin said you could be moody and insensitive. I wanted to find out for myself.

But that didn’t happen. 

Alzheimer’s took you before I grew up. I don’t remember you without it. Sadly, I am not expected to. That’s how early in my life it happened.

Even though I barely knew you, I’m trying to find you everywhere I go.

I see you in the strawberry decorations that adorn your house. From the ones on the fridge to the ones on the shelves. That’s why I love strawberries; they make me feel closer to you. I hang every strawberry ornament on the Christmas tree. I put a strawberry pillowcase on my pillow when I go to camp each year. I think my cousin sees you in strawberries, too.

She named her daughter after you. You and her other grandmother. But your name comes first. 

Sadie Olive.

Sadie Olive, my cousin’s daughter, plays in strawberries and milk at six months old.

I see you in her. One day, she will see you in the strawberries as well. Strawberries will probably define her. She has already had pictures with them for her six-month birthday. She looks like she fits in with them. You will have a connection with the great-grandaughter you never got to meet no matter what. My cousin’s pregnancy with her was even announced at the restaurant where I have my few memories of you.

I see you in my dad. I know he doesn’t like to hear this, but he looks so much like you. I don’t know how, but he does. Your two sons are the spitting image of you and your husband. 

I never got to know you, but somehow I feel I did. I just wish I could remember more.

Missing you more every single day,

Your youngest grandchild, who sees the strawberries.