I’m not normally a person who dwells on what could have been but the past few years there has been one thing that keeps popping up as I’ve done through several extremely difficult times.
I miss my Memaw. Yes, everyone misses lost relatives but lately I’ve been feeling so cheated. I not only lost someone I was very close to but a person that I feel I needed as I grew up and especially the last few years.
Claudia Elaine Kisor was born in 1946 and passed away on April 19, 1995, from breast cancer. She died just before the Alfred P. Murrah bombing. When we heard/felt the blast from some miles away I did not think of a terrorist attack. I thought it was my world falling apart.
I was eight years old. I was there in the room when she passed. I was told a few days before that she wasn’t going to make it to prepare myself. But there was no preparation possible.
She was my best friend. Since my parents were young when they had me (21 and 18) they worked liked crazy to make things work so I spent the majority of my time either at Memaw’s or at my grandma’s. I was the most attached to them than anyone. My mom used to say she was jealous of how close we were—I never wanted to go home but stay with Memaw.
I remember spending most days waking up early with her, riding in the car to drop my aunt and uncle off for high school and then spending a few hours at the Arrow Café. She knew the owner, who always stood me on a table and announced my birthday. She would visit with people, as she always seemed to know absolutely everyone, and would give me a small notepad with colored paper and a pen with all colors of ink to draw with while she had her coffee. She took me everywhere with her, I was like her shadow. And I loved it.
Then she was gone. I remember the cancer coming back but at eight years old I didn’t really understand it. I went to every single chemo appointment and watched the nurses draw blood, fascinated. I never realized how bad she felt. I never thought anything of her losing her hair. Now that I’ve seen other people go through chemo as I’ve gotten older, I can’t imagine how she remained active with me despite the suffering she must have endured.
I remember her funeral. The day of her passing and the memorial will forever be burned into my mind. I cried and never stopped. I remember hundreds of carnations and a lot of purple-her favorite color. I didn’t realize how many people were at her service because my parents, aunt, and uncles kept me shielded from the others. Mom later told me there were a lot of people there, which makes sense considering she seemed to know everyone. I still can’t listen to Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” without uncontrollably sobbing.
Eventually the grief subsided. But fourteen later it reared its ugly head again. I was sitting in the LA airport on my way back from Japan and the absolute worst time of my life. I was blindsided by divorce from the person I had given up everything for. I sat in that airport, not wishing to talk to anyone but realizing I’d have to let some people know what had happened.
I sent emails and text messages, vague and short. I didn’t talk to anyone about it for months. Sitting in that airport it hit me, I only wanted to talk to one person—my Memaw. And I couldn’t.
I needed her. She would know what to say. She’d be pissed at first and probably want to go kill him herself. Then she’d help me pick myself up and dust myself off. I had other relatives/friends that were more than happy to do so, but I wanted her. I wanted her perception and her comfort.
I had never felt so cheated in my life. I needed her guidance at that moment but what about the other times in my life? I never had her to run and talk to during my preteens and teen years as I grew and my views of the world changed. I never got to talk to her as a young adult, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life.
She would have been sixty-seven this July 30th. She should still be here, laughing at my bad luck, listening to my stories as I experience more life, helping me get past my doubts. Instead I imagine what I think she would have said. I think I do a pretty good job but it’s not the same.
Cancer is a bitch.