a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Freezing Time

My grandma passed away on August 13th. Almost a month has passed and I've been wanting to write about it, but it feels like nothing I share would fully capture what she meant to me. Still means.

One of my biggest fears when I moved to NYC in 2016 was the thought of not getting back home if something were to happen to a family member. Every "can I call you real quick?" text from my parents over the years has caused my stomach to drop, immediately thinking the worst had happened and I wasn't there to say goodbye.

While I was in Montauk over my birthday, my grandma's health started declining and I wrestled back and forth on whether to come home. It was first year of 29 she hadn't wished me a happy a birthday. I knew in my heart things weren't going to get better.

So I flew home. So scared in the back of my mind that if I continued to wait, I wouldn't be there for the moments that mattered most. I booked a next day flight for 6AM and of all the flights over the years to miss -- I missed this one. I was wrecked with emotion, feeling like any minute ticking by was lost time to be there with her. 

Kind strangers pulled some strings to get me on the next available flight to Ohio. Relief. I boarded the plane with Tito at 9AM and touched down an hour later. 

Seeing my grandma in hospice care at her home for the first time, I bent over sobbing, unable to control my emotion. My sweet grandma. To see her so changed in just the month since I had last been home shocked me. 

I took her hand in mine and told her I was home from New York to see her. She opened her eyes and nodded her head, knowing I was there for her. That was all I wanted.

Over the next five days, I stayed there with my mom through the day and night. She had been taking care of my grandma over the last few months and it was time I took care of both of them. 

I ran and got my mom ice teas from Mcdonald's and coffees from the shop downtown. I let her take naps as I watched over grandma so she could rest without worry. I talked with her, hugged her and told her it was going to be ok.

My grandma lost consciousness soon after I arrived home, but I think she always knew I was with her. I held her hand and whispered about all the things I loved that we did throughout the years and what she meant to me. I told her the funny memories from my childhood I remembered or that she'd told me. My favorite she would always re-tell laughing is when she took me on a hayride during the fall and I proudly announced to the whole wagon that "My grandma can't have candy apples 'cause she has false teeth since she didn't brush 'em when she was younger!"

My grandma loved to smell good and she loved skincare. After I started working at Kiehl's in 2016 and brought home products, she really took a liking to them and continued to purchase them after I left. So, I made sure she was still smelling and looking good, applying hand cream to her every day and making sure to put on Midnight Recovery Oil and Super Multi-Corrective Cream every night. 

I played her favorite music for her. She loved Elton John, Dolly Parton, Josh Groban and Ed Sheeran. 

My family was by her side when she passed. It's been almost a month, but I still don't think it's fully hit me yet. There has been relief for me in her passing,  I feel better knowing that she no longer has to be in that pain.

I keep searching for signs that she's here with me. I try to look for red birds since they were her favorite or listen to the wind chimes that hang outside our house to see her dropping by.

I don't understand death, really. I'm loosely religious so I understand what comes after, but I also just still hope, despite my doubt, that it's what really does happen. I can't imagine a way to cope with her being gone if it's not.

I wanted to capture everything -- freeze time in the house -- as it was to remember. I took this series of film photographs around her house in those first long days that blurred together. I don't want to leave reality up to my memory to decide. I want to remember the warmth that existed here through her life. The small touches that show she lived a beautiful, real life.

I have a lot of thoughts still, but this was a start.

With much love,


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