“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”– Elizabeth Gilbert
CW: Loss of a grandparent. This post may cause tears to happen.
What is a soul mate? There are probably an infinite number of answers to that question, answers as varied as the people on this planet. I don’t believe in one soul mate. I don’t believe in one great love. I don’t believe in forever. A soul mate, for me, is one of many, and the concept of a soul mate has nothing to do with romantic love. It has to do with finding someone who fits inside of your heart just right, you can slip them on like your favorite sweatshirt and instantly feel comforted. A soul mate is with you even when they are not there, even when they are no longer alive.
My grandmother was my first soul mate. She and I were inseparable from the moment she laid eyes on me, and once I was old enough to choose for myself, I chose her. Always. She made the sun shine brighter for me, she made music more melodic even though she couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it, and she made the sweetness of my youth even sweeter. She was so loved by everyone that met her, from long time friends to the clerk at the grocery store who she called honey even though she didn’t know them.
She wasn’t a mirror. She was a part of me, like a vital organ that I needed in order to live. She never pushed me to be anything other than what I was, even in my imperfection. She cherished and celebrated every part of me.
I miss her everyday. And, even though she was once the brightest star in my galaxy, little pieces of her disappear with each passing second. I struggle to hold onto the littlest bits of her, to keep her memory as though she were still alive. It’s just not possible though, and it doesn’t make her any less special. It’s just a part of life, to lose the little things when you lose someone you love.
I’ve kept the things that she used, as if they would help my mind hold onto her longer. I use her comb every day when I get out of the shower, the same comb she used when she curled her short blonde hair with a too hot curling iron, filling the bathroom with the odd smell of heated hair products. I wear her robe on chilly mornings, throwing it on over my sleep warmed skin to take the dog out to pee. It’s not the same as having her arms wrapped around me, but it is a comfort all the same.
I have photos of her plastered all over my house, on my fridge held up with magnets taken from her own always fully stocked fridge. She has her mouth open, always talking, always laughing. She moves in the photos, never one to sit still for long. She is dancing, walking with that shuffling swagger, always in bejeweled sandals, her tall frame draped in flouncing color. I wish she could walk right off the paper to me, and we would dance to show tunes again, barefoot on the living room carpet.
I still have a voicemail message that she sent me after the last time I saw her. She tells me she misses me, that she wants to get all dressed up and go out to dinner. She thanks me for organizing her Tupperware cabinet and cleaning her ceiling fans. Her voice is like old velvet, the softness is still there but its worn. Her New York accent is legendary, and it pops up in me sometimes, a southern girl with northern roots.
She is in me. I carry her around, always, because she fits in my heart so perfectly. She is my soul mate.