All of a Sudden

My sister, Biz Noni, and me
My sister, Biz Noni, and me

Yesterday morning, I finally fell asleep somewhere around 6am after being up all night in pain. I woke up around 11:30am to a text from my mom, asking me to call as soon as I could. It was from around eight in the morning. Dread filled me; I knew something was wrong. Since I’d taken Tramadol so late, I was still feeling the side effects. Which is why, when I called my mom and she told me my sweet Biz Noni had passed away, all I could say was “Oh.”

Then it slammed into me.

I hadn’t seen her in a few months. She transitioned into a nursing home last year when her dementia started getting really bad. I visited her from time to time but wasn’t able to as often as I would’ve liked. I was planning on going to see her this week, since Mike is on vacation from work and I could take the car.

But it was too late.

I’ve been kind of numb today. I’m really sorry that I didn’t go see her sooner. I feel horrible about that. She deserved better. And even though I know that she knew she was loved, I still feel bad. Lots of family visited her on a regular basis, and she’d made friends in the home, so she wasn’t alone. I guess I just wish I could’ve told her one more time how much I love her.

Though I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore, it hurts so much to say goodbye. She was one of the sweetest, most stubborn people I knew. Some of the things she’d come out with had me in stitches. You’d think a white-haired ninety-five-year-old would be demure, but not my Biz Noni. She loved to bust balls and always played “The Matriarch” card whenever anyone tried to give her shit. “I’m The Matriarch,” she’d say, and that was that.

Biz Noni had a sweet tooth, too. The older she got, the more she looked forward to her desserts. We’d barely be done with Christmas dinner, for example, and she was already asking about dessert. I’ve decided I’m going to dedicate my bakery romance Just One More Minute to her. It’s only fitting.

I have so many good memories of my Biz Noni: her babushka on a cool night around the campfire; playing “office” and “doctor” in her living room with my sister and cousins; making cookies, cappelletti, and gnocchi in the kitchen with her and the rest of my family; watching black and white movies with her on TV…

I don’t really know what else to say right now. Like one of my cousins said last night, I thought she’d be around forever. She always had. She remembered everything up into her nineties, and then all of a sudden it didn’t. The dementia was so fast. I guess my mom is right, that it’s kind of good that the last time I saw her was when she was still doing relatively well.

I just wish I could’ve given her one last kiss on her sweet, soft cheek and told her I love her one last time.

Happy Birthday, Popi

Popi, me, and Noni on the day I graduated college.
Popi, me, and Noni on the day I graduated college.

My family is scattered. At one point we all practically lived in the same house. Now we’re separated across Connecticut and Virginia. Normally, I miss them but I’m able to go about my day. We’re all living our own lives, occasionally reuniting to celebrate the milestones. Times like today, though, I feel the pang of that split.

It’s my grandfather’s birthday, and all I want is to be around my family.

I can’t.

I’m too sick.

Plus, later, I have to go to the DMV. Today is not my favorite.

But thanks to Facebook, we can trade photos and stories. My sister dug up this photo of my grandparents with me on my college graduation. My aunt and I were discussing the various traits we all inherited from Popi. Across the gap, we’re still closer than ever.