Amanda Hocking

Amanda's Blog Post

The Absence

January 3rd, 2013 by
This post currently has 49 comments

So my last blog was November 30th, and I was like “Hey watch out for my blog and all this fun stuff happening!” And then I never posted again. December 2012 marks the first month in the history of this blog that I didn’t blog at all.

I knew I needed to take a break from blogging, but I didn’t want to say why I was taking break, because I’d have to explain it, so I kept putting it off. And then I didn’t want to blog, because I’d have to explain why I hadn’t been, and that would mean really talking about it, and I didn’t want to.

But now I think it’s time.

The best way for me to tell this story is to tell it all. This is going to be a long blog, so you can choose not to read it. But here’s the beginning: My favorite person in the whole world died. Not my fake favorite like Tom Hardy, but the actual person that meant more to me than anything.

I think that’s the best way to say it, because saying “my grandma died” doesn’t actually articulate what happened. Nor does it convey even slightly the tremendous loss the world has without Nanny.

I’m sure most people love their grandparents and think they’re awesome. But Nanny truly was the most awesome grandma ever. I describe her as a cross between Michael Caine and Betty White, but that doesn’t even explain her awesomeness. She was British and had the quickest wit and she was so warm and she was everybody’s grandma or mom. Everyone loved her. Everyone that knew her loved her.

My earliest memories are being with her. She used babysit me all the time, and I’ve lived with her on and off most of my life. She would read to me, and I would tell her stories. Nanny was the first person that encouraged to me tell stories, and she nurtured the imagination and loved me so unconditionally that I absolutely couldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done without her.

A few years ago, Nanny started getting Alzheimer’s. Everything happened so fast after that. By the time I was publishing books, she was too far gone to read them. She could still read, but she no longer had the attention span or memory to get past a page.

And for years – probably my entire life – I told Nanny I would be an author, and I would take her to England. By the time I could finally afford to, she was too far gone to travel. If there’s anything in my life that I regret or that I’m truly angry about it’s that. She left England in 1957, and she’s only been back three times since then, even though her mom and brother and sisters were there. And I just I wanted to take here there, and I never could, and it pisses me off and it hurts and there’s nothing can do about it.

The first time she forgot my name was one of the hardest days of my life. My aunt was living with Nanny and taking care of her, and she needed my help with something. And I went over, and Nanny knew she should know me, but she didn’t. And she was crying, and I kept reassuring her that it was okay. But I went home and I bawled because that’s when I knew I was really losing her, that Nanny wasn’t going to be here much longer.

The thing about Alzheimer’s it’s that you get to lose them twice. Her body was here, but her mind was mostly gone. But then she’d had have these moments of almost-clarity where she’d sound like herself, and that was the worst. Because then it was gone. And I just wanted to talk to her. 

On November 16, 2012, the Friday before Thanksgiving, my mom and I went up to Nanny’s care facility (she’d been living in a memory care unit for some time). We thought it was just for a meeting to see how she was doing since they’d adjusted some of her meds. Instead, they sat us down and told us that Nanny was dying, and she maybe had six months.

It was this surreal moment when the head of the facility sat us down. As soon as she did, I knew that Nanny was dying, and I kept thinking, “But she doesn’t have cancer. She was just at the doctors, and they didn’t do tests. She can’t have cancer.”

Well, no, Nanny didn’t have cancer. But her body was shutting down, and she didn’t have much time left.

We went to talk with her, and Nanny was so drowsy and out of it. She barely spoke to us. She was barely awake. But when my mom hugged her, Nanny kept telling her it would be okay. Then we left. And that was the last time I saw her alive.

On midnight on December 4th, Nanny passed away in her sleep.

My mom had gone to seen Nanny between the day we found she was dying and the day she died. But I didn’t. She was so out of it, and I… I don’t know. I want nothing more than the world than to talk to her again, but I couldn’t talk to her like that. She couldn’t really talk.

I know she loved me, and she knows I loved her. I know that. And that’s the one comfort I have.

Because of the Alzheimer’s, I expected her passing to be easier. Because I’d already lost her. But the finality of death has really made this excruciating. I will never talk to her again. The brutality of that statement is immeasurable.

When I was 14-15, I lived a block away from her. I used to walk over to her house in the afternoon. We’d go through her old pictures and we’d talk. And I am so very grateful for that time. That’s probably been the best use of my time in my entire life.

But I still miss her so much. It’s like all the times I spent missing her over the past few years, I’d bottled them, and they’re all here now. It’s a wave of emptiness, and it feels like its taken the best parts of me. She was all love and laughter. I know that doesn’t make sense, but anything she gave me, I still have, but it feels like a part of me gone. Like a huge chunk of me just disappeared.

And it doesn’t seem possible that she’s not here. It doesn’t seem fair that the world can exist without her. And I’m mad that I have to live without her. And I’m mad that my kids will never get to know her. I’m mad that nobody will ever get to know her agian, the world has been deprived of her.

And I know I’m doing a bad job of telling how amazing she truly was, but it’s because there aren’t words. There was something intangible about her, something utterly lovely and charming and warm and genuine and funny, and you felt it whenever you were around her. She made you feel loved and special, and she was quick and smart.

And I know that I should just feel grateful about the time I had with her. She was amazing, and many of my favorite memories from my childhood are with her. I got to her know, and she loved me. And I should be grateful, and I am.

But I’m also greedy. I wanted more time. I just want to talk to her again. I’ve never wanted anything more. I didn’t even know it was possible to want something this much. And every time I think I can’t cry anymore, I cry more.

So that’s it. That’s why I haven’t been blogging or writing or really doing anything all that useful the last few weeks. I hadn’t written anything since Nanny died, but I started writing last night. I miss her, and I will always miss her.

Nanny and me in 1995

Leave a Reply

  • Meghan Ward says:

    I’m so sorry about your grandma, Amanda. You did her a great justice by conveying how wonderful she was, and how much you loved her. I hope I will be that loved by my grandchildren some day!

  • Amanda, having Alzheimer’s take ones beloved is possibly the hardest kind of grief journey one can ever be asked to take. You watch your beloved vanish so slowly, so inconsistently that trying to hold onto them through the course of the disease is like trying to grasp wishes as they are blown across a dandelion. In essence you die along with them hundreds of times as they slip so very far away. Those are haunting memories. Take your time and process all of it, every word, every memory, there is your best chance to heal well. Come to a place where it feels safe enough to leave the hurt part behind, so the memories of the love you shared can come to live in your present for the rest of your days.

  • Tara Gimbel says:

    I am so sorry for you loss, Amanda! It sounds liike you were a special blessing in her heart that she will hold dear for eternity.I have lost my mother and the other mother in my life afterwards, my maternal grandmother. I talk to them more now than ever. Tell her everything. She is listening and so very proud of you!

  • I am so very sorry for your loss. It’s never easy, whether it’s sudden or gradual. Loss is loss, it takes time to heal.
    The one thing that kept me going after my mother’s death was to remember that she wouldn’t have wanted me to only remember the one day that she died. She had lived for 45 years. Those 45 years she lived meant way more then that one day she died. I still think about the day she died, and i still cry, but I also remember the days she lived & smile.

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  • CarrieLynn says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss.Just hold on to all your precious memories and cherish them in your heart.Praying for you and your family.

  • This post broke my heart. I’m truly so sorry for your loss. You got to know and be friends with your grand mother, I didn’t really had a good chance, I lost both of my grand mothers. I’m really sorry you couldn’t take her to England, or that your kids will never get to know her. I have the same feeling. Be strong Amanda.

  • aroquet says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your Nanny. I just visited my grandma yesterday. She has Alzheimer’s too, and she’s in a memory care unit. I know I won’t have her much longer and that there’s nothing I can do about it, but I am still dreading the day that I lose her completely. My grandma was a big part of my life too. She and my grandfather, who I lost a year ago to cancer, had a lake house that we spent our summers at. There are so many memories that are reflected on with tears now. I just hope that one day I can look back and only feel the joy of those moments. I hope the same for you and the memories you have of your Nanny.

  • Twisted says:

    I think you did an excellent job telling us how much she meant to you. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  • Coolkayaker1 says:

    The best tribute you can give to Nanny is to take all of her fabulous traits and incorporate them into who you are.

    Thank you for sharing, Amanda.