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Last September, I returned to Canada for my sister's wedding. For the "all guest and family" photograph, we all gathered in front of the country inn. I was waiting for the traditional "1,2,3, CHEEEESE", when my grandma standing next to me blurted out:" If he continues like that , he's going to swallow a fly". It only took half a second for me and everybody else around to realize what she was talking about: the cameraman in front of us was concentrating on his perched camera with his mouth wide open. He was moving from side to side to balance the camera, and he really looked like he was trying to catch a fly! Everybody burst in laughter. I still laugh out loud when I think about it.  However, if I knew then what I know now, I would have concentrated on everything she did and said that night, for it was the last evening I would have with her. After that week, I returned home in France.  

My Grandma passed away on November 25th 2011 at the age of 84. Illness struck quickly; one morning she woke up with a fever and ten days later it was over.  I never got back in Canada in time, she died while I was in between flights. I never got a chance to say goodbye, to hold her hand one last time...

We always had a strong bond. She could always get through to me when no one else could, and vice versa. Even though I lived far away, I always felt close to her and we would often chit chat for hours on the phone.  I always thought we were so close that obviously I would get a sign or a feeling if something happened to her.  Needless to say Life is not a movie, and I never once felt her presence or dreamt about her since she is gone. She vanished from my life overnight without saying goodbye, leaving me disillusioned, unprepared and alone.

Now I find myself clinging on to any memory. I can't really remember a specific conversation with her, at least not entirely, but I remember her smell, the way she held her cigarette sitting in her favorite pink armchair, the squeakiness of her voice when she was anxious, her laughter, the sound she made when she chewed her favorite little chocolates. She loved BBQ chicken and she had a porcelain doll collection that scared the bejeezus out of me. Insignificant details, yet now priceless.

I also remember the comfort I got from her advice. She always believed in me, she always had faith I could do whatever I wanted. Actually, the more I think about it, she believed all of us were fundamentally good and could do no wrong (except for my uncle-in-law, she was convinced he could do no good LOL). She was kindhearted and did everything in her power to help anyone in need.  She was really a great person and I feel privileged to have shared 42 years of my life with her. Although there are thousands of great people on this planet, no other person can replace my Grandma.  It makes me realize just how unique each and every one of us is.

I know that she is not completely gone. Part of her remains in my heart and each person that loved her holds another part. I guess the best way to feel closer to my Grandma now is to get closer to my family, taking care and enjoying their company. This is what she would have wanted. This is also the most precious gift she left us: stronger bonds, a new complicity.

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