I walked with my family, cold marble surrounding us, the high arches beautiful as they reflected the flickering candles. I slid into the wooden pew, the bench hard and unforgiving.
Strong. I had to be strong.
Aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents, and siblings. Everyone together.
I glanced at the casket before averting my eyes.
If I didn’t think about it or look at it, it wasn’t real.
And this wasn’t happening.
I turned my head, instead focusing on the person to my left.
Her face was heavily lined, wrinkled, her composure in place. The spots of age peppered her body, covering her hands, showing the years she’d lived.
Fifty of them with my grandfather.
Each of her six children surrounded her, every out-law and grandchild present.
Yet somehow, I was the one next to her.
I had to be strong.
My father stood to read, delivering the eulogy, speaking of my grandfather’s tour in World War II, his zest for life, his refusal to pay for anything on credit, and his love for his family.
Beside me, my grandmother shook, the words reaching her.
I lifted my left hand, reaching for her right.
She gripped the life preserver tightly, her fingers stiff from arthritis yet surprisingly smooth, drawing from my strength.
I smiled at her, giving her my love too, as she returned a simple look.
Bolstered, I faced my father, taking in the words, smiling at him, sending him my strength as his voice faltered.
You can do it, Dad.
He recovered, continuing on.
My grandmother’s hand still held mine, the firmness now the only sign of her pain. She hid it from everyone but me.
I squeezed it again.
It didn’t matter my grandmother and I weren’t super close. Living states away meant visits once a year, rare phone calls, letters, and now email were the pieces that formed our relationship.
I had no memories of snuggling on her lap, receiving boo-boo kisses, or reading books together – not like I did with my maternal grandparents who lived walking distance from my parents.
But she was Grandma B.
And I loved her.
Always, she was the pillar of the family – her four daughters and two sons all close – holding everyone together over the multiple states and cities.
Her food legendary. Her love endless.
But today, I was the pillar.
And I will never forget the unspoken bond we formed in those moments.
All through the simple touch of our hands.
Some of us are more reserved, rarely touching other people.
And then a few of us hang out somewhere in the middle. Hugging our children, but limiting our affection to handshakes with others.
This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.
Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us. Bring us to that time. Help us feel what you felt.