Saying goodbye isn’t easy.

It doesn’t matter how a loved one passes or how old they are, death hurts.

I just buried my best friend, my maternal grandmother. She was 97 years old. Although she lived a long and full life, I wasn’t ready. I knew one day I would get the dreaded news, but I wasn’t prepared for it to come so suddenly.

I would never truly ever be ready.

Dealing with grief is never pretty. It doesn’t matter if you knew the day was coming. It doesn’t matter how old you are when it happens. When you lose someone you love, pain and sadness take hold of you. As I laid on the floor sobbing in the fetal position, my 8.5 month old son looked at me quizzically. He had never seen his mother cry. Lucky for me, my husband was home because I was in no condition, physically or mentally, to be a parent. The next few days were a blur and I am still numb.

She was my little ox and much to the surprise of her doctors, she always bounced back and defied their odds. My grandmother was like my second mother because she lived with me until I got married and left the nest when I was 24. I never saw the inside of a daycare center because she and my grandfather took care of my siblings and me while both of my parents worked. She couldn’t read or write but the things she taught me were priceless.

As a military family, home is wherever the Army sends us and it’s often thousands of miles away from blood family. When I got the dreaded phone call I knew, no matter what, I was going to get back to Connecticut, twins and all.

My military family rallied behind us, offering to help in any way they could: watching our house, getting our mail, taking care of our dogs, bringing us to the airport. In good times and in bad, my friends have become family.

In the chaos of it all, I was overwhelmed with phone calls, text messages and emails from friends near and far. Those who were lucky enough to have met my grandmother shared with me their memories, which gave me a good laugh since she was such a character.

For those who know me, you know I have soft spot for four things: animals, babies, the homeless and senior citizens. Whenever I hear stories about people dumping their parents in a nursing home and never going to the see them or mistreating them, my heart sinks.

Yes, watching a loved one age isn’t easy, but that’s when they need their family the most.

Most of my fondest memories growing up were centered around my grandparents and I am so lucky to still have a set alive. I am even luckier that my children got to meet three sets of great grandparents and I will cherish those memories forever. As soon as both of my babies were home from the hospital my mother and maternal grandmother hopped on a plane to help me for almost three months.

I will never forget that time and I will always cherish those memories. For those with aging loved ones, take the time to be with them because you never know when you will be forced to say goodbye.

Vanessa Lynch is a former metro editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. An Army spouse, she and her husband live in Harker Heights with their two young children. Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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