My Nana Gaslavis


As I sit in this hospital room, watching you nap with Aria. It’s finally starting to hit me that you won’t be with us much longer. The glue that keeps us together. Oh, Nana. My Nana Gaslavis.

I look at those beautiful hands, and they tell such a sad story. I know life wasn’t easy for you. You battled poverty and suffered profound loss. You lost your husband, and your grief was replaced by useful sadness. You lost your only son and somehow managed to laugh again. Through it all, though, you maintained your faith in God. Dad said it was easy to marry mom after meeting you and Vaseli (my grandfather). He said, “They had so little but Suzi – they were so happy!” It’s because you trusted God’s plan for you, and life gave you the gift of your grandchildren. We all know Niki, Luvigji, and Rozana are your favorite. That’s okay though. I think they are our favorites too!

I’ve spent many nights lying in bed next to you as you prayed the rosary. I loved sleeping next to you as a child. Cuddling up against your pale skin so soft. Staring at the mark on your lip. It’s the same one I have when I look in the mirror. Your tummy, so squishy, so warm, and inviting. Lumi Nana .. you would say as your arms brought me closer into your chest. I’d tickle you, and you’d laugh. My goodness, how I’ll miss that laugh. So full of life.

If someone asked me to describe your laugh, I’d say, “no control mixed with a sweet gracefulness that rings the soul.” Your eyes, blue like sky. Those cheeks. Uff pink round delicious apples. I’ll miss biting them and hearing you say, “Hak he dreq (Stop you Brat), he he he. ” I know deep down you love that I bite your cheeks.

My Nana, you are so beautiful to me.

You made me feel self-assured after giving birth to my firstborn. You looked at me and said, “Motherhood comes naturally to you. The way you hold and nurse that baby is what I would imagine an angel’s embrace feels like.” And that was it. It was all the confidence I needed as a new mom. You did that for me. =*) Amongst other things.

But then my mind goes to the night before my c-section with Aria. We were awaiting the birth of my daughter and what would be your terminal diagnosis. I entered the living room to find my mom awake. And she said, “Po ti?” (And you? in Albanian) We chuckled. Not even a minute later … you came out of the girl’s room where you had been sleeping, and I said to you, “Po ti?” You threw your hands up in the air and pursed your lips like you always did. We all laughed hysterically and then shushed one another. It’s now one of my core memories.

You were the one suffering, but we were all in pain that night. We knew. We all knew. But we pretended like it was all okay. You have the ability to put us all at ease. It’s another one of the things that make you special.

That brings me to your sense of humor, comedic timing all your funny little sayings. You always knew when a witty remark was needed the most, and you used this gift to defuse many situations.

I’d like to think I have many of your qualities. You’ll never know the impact you’ve had on my life. You’re awake now, though, and asked me to pluck your chin hairs because you want to look beautiful in the casket. This is why I love you so much.

We won’t be the same once you are gone. I feel it. This cloud of grey. It makes me sad. But such is life, right?



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