Petite Maman

Petite Maman ★★★★½

I lost my grandma on May 4, 2019 and I have thought about her at some point every day since. My mom and I don't really talk about it. I suppose we already said enough those first few days after it happened, but I know she's still hurting too. Our complicated triad had suddenly lost a member, and we were left scrambling to build a new relationship dynamic without her mediation. In that regard, things have been going well. We've been genuinely trying to listen to each other's wants and needs, and I feel more understood by my mom in recent years than I ever have before. But I'm so tired of trying to navigate life without my grandma. She raised me as much as (if not more than) my parents and we were always very close. I would give anything just to talk to her one more time. I wish I could feel her wrap her arms around me whenever I find myself cracking under the weight of missing her. No matter how old I got, she always had a knack for making me feel like a kid again, which could be frustrating at times but usually felt like the strongest protective barrier in the world. I could leave the present day at the door and be transported back to simpler times just by stepping into her house. That portal closed when she died. What little was left of my childhood innocence died with her. I know it’s a bit cliché to describe my feelings this way, but it’s true: there is a hole inside me in her shape that can not and will not ever be filled. It just scabs over a little as time passes. Sometimes, I intentionally pick at the scab. I’ll put on the perfume that she wore every day for the last decade I knew her. I’ll look at the cards and letters I keep tucked away in my nightstand. I’ll drive to her old house and sit in my car outside, still trying to will my present reality away and become very small. I’ll watch a film like this one. With every pick, the wound starts to open again. Sometimes, I manage to hit just the right spot and it starts to bleed as heavily as the day it first appeared. It hurts and it’s messy to clean up, but it’s also a relief. I don’t want to get to the point where I can think about her and feel absolutely nothing. I don’t want to feel like I’ve moved on and left her behind. The pain reminds me that, as much as I may fear forgetting her, that will never happen. I know that she’ll always be a part of me. This film allowed me to pick the scab with more ferocity and determination than I have been willing to muster lately, but I’m honestly glad that it did. Sometimes you have to face a little pain to remember the immense, equally-enduring love.

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