Late last August, I got a panicked call from my mom. "Holly, babe, Grandma’s not doing well. I’m driving down tomorrow. How soon can you come?"
My dad’s high-school buddy picked me up at the Kansas City airport. As we headed up to the family ranch, I braced myself. I'd studied death and bereavement in college, so I knew a great deal about the whole process. But I realized that watching my 92-year-old grandmother Dorothy Ellis go through it would be the hardest thing I’d faced yet.
When I walked into her room, she looked like she wanted to leap out of bed and scoop me up like she did when I was little. Instead, I spent the next five days sitting by her side, saying the Hail Mary and singing "Silent Night" with her while she drifted in and out of consciousness.
I was ripped apart inside when I had to return to New York, but she gave me a look that told me it was okay. I was sure I’d be back soon for her funeral.