I made my grandma’s oatmeal cookies on Easter Sunday and they didn’t turn out quite right. I wasn’t patient enough while mixing the ingredients and her handwritten recipe didn’t mention a bake time.
My boyfriend thought I was being too hard on myself. He enjoyed the special treats in sandwich form, sealing two cookies together with cream cheese icing.
I was being too hard on myself. I have been being too hard on myself since April 5, 2011, the day Evelyn Jenkins passed away.
Whenever I describe my grandma to people, I start by saying we were close. She was my childhood babysitter and my favorite baker. I can still smell her house and feel her skin.
I say that we were close because some people my age are sad about a grandparent’s death in a general way. They’re said because death is sad.
Many grandparents lived far away and made appearances at Easter. My grandma sat next to me every Sunday in church. She saw (and usually complained about) all the hairstyles I tried.
When Grandma Jenkins died, it felt like a piece of me went missing. It also felt like a condemnation, a reminder of all the times I should have called, all the times I should have extended my visits.
My boyfriend isn’t the first person to remind me not to beat myself up. Drifting apart from family during college is normal, they say. She knew you loved her.
They’re right. And in five years, I think I’ve forgiven myself for the way I spent my time and attention.
But I can’t yet forgive the way loss shrank the horizon of my heart. How it made me hesitate to let people in because of how hard it is to let people go.
I think it was fitting for the oatmeal cookies to turn out not quite right. Life hasn’t been quite right these last five years.
That makes me sad, too, because it would make my grandma sad. She’d want me to take the not-right cookies and spruce them up with cream cheese icing. To take a bite and smile.