My grandmother, Carol Ann Duefrene, passed away on December 2, 2017, at 12:40 in the morning.
I am not okay. I’m pretty good at pretending to be okay, but I can’t with this. I am going through the motions that you are supposed to do for living life and moving on. I have continued to go on, but parts of me feel stuck when I got the phone call and just. Crumpled.
I’m not going to vent out everything I’m going through. It’s a lot, and I am still processing. Instead, I’m going to share her favorite memory of the two of us.
When I was roughly nine or ten months old, my parents wanted to go to Disneyland. Laller offered to come because she loved spending time with me and one of her favorite things to do was people watch at Disneyland. Shortly after entering the park, my mom and dad took off for something, and Laller took me through the exit of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The exit of that attraction is a rather clean, nice, large, air-conditioned room and had plenty of time for a freshly crawling baby to wear themselves out. She put me on the floor to let me explore my heart’s content while she rested on a bench.
It’s always been unclear who came in first. After about 15 minutes, either Minnie Mouse or Daisy Duck had popped their head in briefly, before going into the room. They were followed by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and either Chip or Dale. And all of these large headed, anthropomorphic characters surrounded the ten-month me very slowly, and very carefully, and started to play with me. We played peekaboo, I’d crawl from one to another and boop their noses. This went on for about twenty minutes before one of them realized they had to be somewhere. So they left. And I tried to follow. This was also the moment that Laller fully appreciated I was going to be a pain in the ass as I grew up.
She told me this story more often than she did any other one. There was also when she walked me into a pool to wake me up (she claimed I knew what I was doing – I claim nothing makes sense and I was going through the motions of getting ready). When we went to Hearst Castle and San Diego. Seeing shows around Los Angeles.
Laller helped raise me. She helped shape the person I am. She wasn’t alone. I can’t forget Val, my adoptive Russian grandmother whom I lost in 2011. But nothing could have prepared me for this loss. Knowing she was sick. Knowing she was dying. Knowing that Laller hasn’t been Laller for well over a year now.
I wasn’t ready for that call. I wasn’t ready for this.
My last moments with her was an hour before she was gone. I was injured, due to the clumsiest injury one can manage at work, and standing was painful. She was in her full burrito mode. I hobbled to her to give her a hug, and a kiss. I told her I love her.
I am going to miss her every day.