Looking Up, Letting Go

When my Grandpa passed away, the family decided it was best that my Grandma sell her house and move in with my parents. When I spoke to her about the possibility of moving in with my mother, she expressed hesitation.
“I don’t want to be a burden to your mother. My mother lived with me for years before she died and I know how hard it was to take care of her. I don’t want to put that burden on your mom.”
That’s how my Grandma was. She never wanted to burden anyone in any way. She just wanted to take care of everyone and make sure everyone else was happy. I can honestly say I never once heard her complain about her life or hardships. And believe me, she had many.
She did end up moving in with my mother and it was the best decision she could have ever made. She had an amazing three years. She started attending my parents church, she made many friends– spent her day visiting people from the church, holding bible studies at my mom’s house and even visiting convalescent homes to minister to the people there.
Everyone loved having my Grandma around.
But no one loved her more than her grandchildren.
Any time Gabby would spend time at my mom’s house, the first thing she would do was run to her Oma’s room. She would lay on the bed while my Grandma knitted. My Grandma would tell her stories– mostly about when I was a little girl. My mom said she wouldn’t leave her room. She loved being around her, listening to her stories, or singing her songs.
The day before my Grandma passed away from cancer,we spent the entire day with her, in her bedroom. She wasn’t awake, but we explained to the kids that she could hear what they were saying. So, they sang songs to her, drew pictures for her, they told her their favorite memories with her. It was heartbreaking, beautiful.
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After Oma passed away, I sat Gabby down to tell her the news.
I expected her to burst into tears, but she didn’t.
“I feel so sad, but I don’t feel any tears, mommy.”
I told her that she didn’t have to cry. That Oma knew she loved her and that’s all that mattered. ‘
A couple of days ago, Gabby climbed into bed with me early in the morning. She buried her face into my chest and started to cry.
“What’s wrong, baby girl?”
“I miss Oma so much!”
I held her close to me and cried with her.
The past few days, there is a sadness in her eyes. More than a month has passed and the reality is finally sinking in. She will never see her Oma again. And she misses her deeply.
Last night, she told me that she was going to write a letter to Oma, just like she did for Opa. She asked me how to spell Oma’s last name because she wanted to be sure that God knew which Wilma the letter was for when he gave it to her in heaven.
She asked if we could send the letter to heaven with balloons. I told her we absolutely could and would.
After school this afternoon, we stopped by a local party supply store and I let her pick out five balloons. She carefully chose each balloon.
“I want a black and white polka dot one because it looks like a shirt she used to wear to church. I want some with hearts because hearts stand for love and I loved her…”
When we returned home, we got the letter and headed outside.
We took a walk to the horse trails.
She found the spot where she wanted to let the balloons go.
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Before she let go, she said a few heartfelt words to Oma. Then, she looked up to the sky and just let go.
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I knelt down to hug her as we watched the balloons float away. She held onto me as we watched. As we walked away, we both kept our eyes glued to the sky. I held her hand and we walked slowly back home.
I told her that what she had done for her Oma truly touched my heart.
She looked at me and said these exact words.
“Mom, I just had to let go. I had to do it for my own freedom. Now, I feel entire joy!”
When we arrived home, she sat down in the driveway and watched until she couldn’t see the balloons anymore.
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41 thoughts on “Looking Up, Letting Go

  1. SJ

    My sister is dying from cancer, I can only hope that when the time comes that I can let go and be at peace like your daughter. She’s a beautiful soul.

  2. Rebecca (Bearca)

    Yvonne. I am weeping. What an amazing family you have. You just KNOW Oma was smiling down on her.

  3. Heidi

    What a remarkable young lady you have!! That is such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing and I’m sorry about the loss of your grandmother.

  4. mommabird2345

    I’m crying big tears. My grandma passed away in May and my 7yo daughter has had a hard time with it. We all have, really. She always talks about how much she misses her and it brings tears to my eyes.
    This is so lovely. Thinking of you and your family.

  5. Nancy P

    Well this just opened the floodgates. What an amazing daughter you have. What an amazing FAMILY. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  6. Kate

    Delurking – I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment before (likely because I read mostly at work, where your site is blocked as “tasteless” – I think you have great taste!)
    #1 – your daughter looks utterly grown in the pictures of her walking with the balloons.
    #2 – you are doing a fabulous job with her. From everything I read, she is a sweet girl with a beautiful heart. She’s the kind of little girl that really makes me want a daughter.
    #3 – And this is a general comment across the board for this blog – you are so talented. A talented writer & photographer…I’ve been reading long enough to know that you sometimes get down on yourself and wonder if you’re doing a good enough job at all this interweb stuff and I think you’re doing just fabulously. I wish you all the best and confidence in the world!

  7. Amy

    Wow. I got goosebumps & cried reading this, especially the words Gabby said after she let go (literally & figuratively). I shared this story on my FB because I think everyone should read it; very powerful and wise!

  8. Brenda

    What a beautiful story and what wisdom from your baby girl. I have to admit I still have tears falling. It’s so hard letting go and she figured it out early. Bless her heart. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Jessica

    Yeah, I’m going to go over here to this corner and bawl now.
    Last week was the year anniversary of my Granny’s passing. Luckily, I was distracted by friends during the actual day, but it is starting to hit me again. I should probably take a cue from your wonderful little daughter and just let go.

  10. Julie

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Truly touched my heart. Many blessings to you and your family.

  11. jcristg

    this made me cry.
    when my grandmother died last thanksgiving, my aunt insisted on a party rather than a proper funeral. it bothers me to this day that i didn’t have the closure and i wish i had the courage of your daughter to do this. maybe i just will 🙂
    thank you. merry christmas!

  12. NotAMeanGirl

    I have salty coffee…
    Why is it kids “get it” so much better than we do when it comes to matters of the heart?

  13. Connie

    What a smart, lovely daughter you have! I lost my favorite Grandmother (Nanny) last year and I’m still having trouble letting go… Maybe I should try Gabby’s way…

  14. Jenn

    I’ve read your blog for a long time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever commented before. I had to come and comment now though… your daughter is beautiful. What a gorgeous heart… I’m at my desk at work crying big crocodile tears.

  15. Michele

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Gabby chose a beautiful way to honor her grandma. I also love the picture of your family holding her hand. Lovely. Thank you.

  16. Leigh

    “Love is a good thing to remember”–did she think of that herself?! That is such a wonderful sentiment. Thank you for sharing it!

  17. Frannie

    I keep getting goosebumps. Your baby girl is truly someone special and just a blessing. Her Oma is definitely melting and smiling from heaven. Thanks for making my day by sharing this. Xoxoxo!

  18. Kimber

    Oh this is so lovely. I wished I had thought to do this when my mom and grandma passed. My kids and I miss them SO very much and they both passed in early 2008. Maybe, on one of those days when I’m feeling especially lonely for them, I will write them a letter and attach it to some balloons and send it to them! They did love balloons! Gabby is an inspiration.

  19. Marci

    This is such a moving post. Your photographs are phenomenal and your daughter has grown into such a wonderful girl. You are truly blessed. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  20. Marcie

    So sweet. I have to say that you are an wicked photographer! Those pictures are excellent, what a great eye you have. I wish I could capture moments like that. How lucky you are to have that talent.

  21. chris

    I very rarely comment on blogs and most of the time I don’t even have time to read ones I used to when I wrote on mine, but I have to say this. . .
    I want to be just like your daughter when I grow up.

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