I lost my grandmother just over a year ago. While the acute pain of it all has faded, the reality remains: she's not here, at least not in the sense that I could call her and talk to her. Almost everyone lives through this experience: our grandparents are, well, old. Given how things work out timing-wise, we often live to see the ends of their lives when we are coming of age.

How strange it is, too. From the moment we're born until this point, our grandparents are constant, static. They've already aged; they don't change significantly until the end. Our siblings grow with us, our parents transition from youthful young parents to middle age and eventually enter older age before our eyes, but grandparents seem like a fixed piece of the world. For lack of a better way of saying it, as far as we're concerned they've always been unchangingly old, and in that way they seem permanent.

So, to lose them is all the more earth-shattering. Something that has been constant in the world, part of the very fabric of it, is gone. That's what I felt when Zita passed. She was the last of my grandparents to pass, and last of the better part of her entire generation of family members.

One thing I found, though, is that she is still here, permanent in her own way. She lives on through us, and through all the lives she touched. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her, that I don't consider how she would react to a situation, or treat a person. Sometimes I even hear her telling me "pretend you already broke it!" when I'm fidgeting with some knickknack I shouldn't be.

Another gift that came from this difficult period is a newfound closeness with my mother (her daughter). I've always been close with my mother, but seeing her grieve the loss of her own mother transformed my relationship with her. Silly as it sounds, it was foreign to see her relationship with her mother as comparable to mine with her, but of course, they're the same thing in a way. We both love our mothers dearly and seeing (and supporting) her through this provoked a transformation through which I see my mother as a peer, in that way. A really beautiful gift, if you ask me.

Boy, do I miss Zita. She was the paragon of kindness, wit, and humor to which we're all trying to aspire.

Have you lost a grandparent? What do you miss most about them? What is their legacy on the world, and how do you try to keep it alive?