I had planned to write this a long time ago. Alas, the shorter days of December have done nothing to alleviate my agenda. So now, with the salty taste of tears on my lips, I am finally getting to something I should have never delayed.
Today, the world grew a little darker when an exceptionally brilliant light was extinguished. For nearly a century the light of my Grandmother’s love filled the world around her. It came to life before females could legally vote, and continued to blaze through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, the dawn of the internet, selfies, and the first black president.
It’s truly amazing what her little light has shone through. It has flickered through some of the best and worst times in history. Yet through it all, her light remained too bright for just one candle. She kindled the flame of a beautiful family. The home she kept and her three amazing children are a testament to the power and influence of my grandmother’s love. Though they may be drastically different people–whether it is the free-spirited passion of my aunt, the loyalty and fortitude of my uncle, or the mindful caring of my mother–Bertha Storey’s love shines through each of her children. It lives on in them, and continues to kindle the flames of an ever growing family. Grandma’s light, radiant and warm, nurtured her three wonderful children, who in turn have spread their light on, to the next generation.
This thought makes me realize that the light of Bertha Storey has not left this world. In the last several weeks, it consistently pained me to say, “Goodbye,” to end each conversation with her on the phone. Alas, the pitfalls of language hindered me from expressing my true feelings of thanks, and my understanding that our conversation will never end; I can see and hear my grandma in the idiosyncrasies of my mother every day; I can talk to her whenever I need to.
Bertha Storey’s candle has lit those of countless others, while never diminishing in brightness. She was like a buddha, in her understanding that, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Until the very end, with each life she touched, she gave the full force of her love and compassion, and her light spread. Now, the source of her love may have gone, but her flame still burns strong in the collective lives of the ones she left behind.
Today the world grew a little darker than it was yesterday, but it is still infinitely brighter than before my grandmother’s flame first came to life nearly a century ago. And thanks to her, the world will continue to grow brighter as her flame spreads from her children, to her grandchildren, and beyond. I will nurture her tender flame in the hopes that it will guide me in times of darkness and that I will be able to leave the world a little brighter—as she did.
I will not say, “goodbye,” because she is still burning in each of us lucky enough to have known her. It is comforting to know, all we need to do is look inside to find my Grandma’s warm smile, hearty laugh, and sharp wit. She is not gone, so I will not say, “farewell.” Today I will only say, “Thank you,Grandma, for the gift of your undying love.”