Fill the damn silence

The irony of grief is that the person you need to talk to about how you feel is the the person no longer here. I believe the pain you feel is from the piece of your heart they took with them so they could always feel your love. But at some point, we have to let go and move on. Because no matter how painful the loss, moving on from it is the only way we grow.

My graduation party (2005)

From the time I was born, my Nana was my hero. I spent countless days with her as an infant and toddler. When I was sick, I wanted my Nana and Paw Paw Mack. I didn’t want my mom or dad, I needed Nana. She gave me the comfort that only a mother can give to a child, and I truly believe that. Her and my mom didn’t get along well, so I was used as leverage many times when they would be into it. Mom wouldn’t let me see her or would bring her up to me during an argument. Their relationship was toxic, and my mom was jealous I had the relationship with Nana she didn’t. It was like that my entire childhood. It didn’t stop my Nana. No matter where we moved, and we moved A LOT, she would drive hours to come see me. Sometimes her and Paw Paw would come pick me up from school in the camper and we would just take off to the beach or the lake. I always felt so free and unbothered when I was with them.

Nana passed away August 2nd, 2022. She lived such a carefree, beautiful life. Life wasn’t always easy for her, but when I was around, she made the best of every situation. We would laugh so much, sometimes cry about things. She was just an amazing person to me. When I had no one, I had Nana.

Paw Paw Mack, Nana, Leah, and me (1995)

A couple of weeks before she passed away, my mom calls me and tells me she has been placed on hospice. My heart sunk so far into my stomach, I didn’t think it would ever come out, but I had been preparing for this. I knew I had to be strong, and do for Nana what she would have done for me. The next day I caught a flight out of Atlanta to Tucson, AZ. My mom had brought her out there several years back to take care of her. When I arrived in Tucson, I had my game face on, and I was ready to be with Nana during her last moments. I said was prepared. I said I was ready. But nothing prepares you for walking into a hospice house, and seeing the one person that has given you unconditionally love and acceptance laying there completely lifeless and dying. Her face was so sunk in. Her eyes barely open. Her breathing was shallow and short. And she was hallucinating visions of her past. I brought my stuff inside her room, as they let me stay with her every minute. Made my bed next to hers, and just laid there and held her hand telling her it was ok. She could go. I promised her over and over I would be ok. I wanted her to know that I would be able to survive like she did. I wanted her to know I was strong. I sat with her for five days watching her die, without anyone there to comfort me. I had to comfort myself. I had to tell myself over and over to be strong. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. As I laid next to her on the 5th day, the nurses we’re having to come in every couple of hours and suction out her mouth. It was horrible to watch, but I couldn’t leave her side. I didn’t want her to die alone. After doing this for the next 8-10 hours, I finally called my sister. We talked and she said to me, “Casi, get out of there. Do you think she wanted you to watch this? Do you think she wanted you to torture yourself with this situation?” And I thought back to when she left me in South Carolina to go to Arizona. I remember her words so distinctly. She said, Casi Nicole, I don’t want you to have to take care of me. I don’t want that for you. I want you to live your life, and be as happy as you can be. Enjoy your life baby.” After remembering this, and now understanding what she meant, I packed my stuff, told her goodbye one last time, and took the next plane back to Atlanta. My mom called two days later and let me know she had passed. It was August 2nd, 2022, when I had never felt more alone in this world. I was her pride and joy and she was mine. Because you never think the last time’s going to be the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don’t.

Nana taught me something I will never forget. Don’t let fear keep you quiet. You have a voice, so use it. Shout it from the rooftops. Make yourself heard. Fill the damn silence with your voice, so when you are alone, things aren’t so quiet. And ultimately, that’s what I’m doing here. I want my story heard so it can help others. Just one person. I hope it helps one person, so that they don’t feel alone either.

For my Nana: I will carry you forever in my heart, until we meet again.❤️


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