So That You May Know Her…

Dear Katie and Matthew,

Your grandmother is lying in a hospital bed tonight and she is dying. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.

Daddy is with her, holding her hand and telling her just how much we all love her.

Neither of you will remember her and that breaks my heart.

There is so much about her that I want you both to know.

She was dynamic. She could quote Shakespeare, discuss philosophy, and sing and play the guitar. Daddy tells a childhood story of camping with her–he remembers her sweet voice singing over the crackling of the campfire. I wish I could have heard that.  I wish you could have heard that.

She was eclectic. I will never forget the outfit she wore to your Uncle Todd’s graduation. She was dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant shade of turquoise, complete with floppy hat and arms adorned with bangle bracelets that just sparkled in the sunlight. She was lit from within in that wild outfit and it suited her beautifully.

She was intelligent. She was a well-respected trauma nurse who pursued her education while raising three young boys. She saw so much in her days as a nurse that made her even more compassionate and empathetic.

She was kind. She was quick to tell you why you were special to her. She was so generous with her words and never missed an opportunity to tell you exactly what made you unique. Sometimes, she would make me blush with her compliments, but I always appreciated and welcomed them.

She was whimsical. She loved astrology and loved to tell you what your sign meant and how it impacted you. Daddy and I would roll our eyes, but that didn’t stop her–she believed it and it was endearing.

She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. Her glass, even in the most difficult of times, was always half full. When life dealt her a terrible hand, she found inner strength that astonished us.

She will live on in your daddy, who is the man that he is because of her. She taught him to be a gentleman, to be kind and courteous. It was from her that he learned how to treat women and how to respect others.

I want you each to know that she loved you. She was so happy to have grandchildren and you made her just light up. She exuded happiness when she spoke of all of the fun that you would have with her as you grew and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity. She would have caused all sorts of fun trouble with you.  She truly looked forward to being, in her words, “your partner in crime.”

I am so truly sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to know her.

I promise to share all of my stories with you. I will do all that I can to keep her alive in my memory so that I can share her with you both.

She has had such a rough time of it. Now it is time for us to wish her peace.

With all of my love,


  1. There are tears rolling down my face as I write this – such a beautiful, perfect post. I'm so sorry for you and your family's loss, and I'm so glad you're going to be able to share your MIL with your kids, so at least they'll be able to know her through you and your husband.

    My thoughts are with you. And your husband. And your children. And their grandma.

  2. Lori

    I lost my dad when my son was not quite two. I hurt so much that he would never know my grown son, and that my son would never know – never even remember – his grandpa. So I fill in with stories and pictures. It is what I have, so I share it.

    My thoughts and love are with you all right now.

  3. I am so, so sorry for all of you. I am sadly familiar with your family's situation and you have my fullest sympathy. I know how hard it must be for all of you right now. Please accept my warmest thoughts for you and your family.

  4. kris

    I hope that when it is my time to go, that there will be a woman with thoughts and love and ability enough to capture me. A woman whose love for me will allow her to give to her children (my grandchildren) what I am no longer able to give.


    So beautiful.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. Nichole

    My dad died when I was two and I have absolutely no memory of him. Katie is three, but I still can't imagine that she'd ever be able to recall her grandmother.
    I am kicking myself, wishing we had gotten some video of her to share with the kids. Why didn't I do that? Why does it always feel that there will be another day, another opportunity to capture those moments?

    Thank you for your kind words…they truly mean the world.

  6. Emmie Bee

    Gosh. I dunno where to start because while I am not going through this presently- I was thinking these very same things today. Your children will know their grandmother through your husband. Through the stories and legacy she leaves. My husband lost his mom when he was 25. We were and are devastated. It kills me to know that she never knew my children or her other, future grandchildren. All we can do is celebrate their life by living ours in an example they would be proud of. By sharing stories and pointing out similarities. It is SUCH a profound thing to lose someone you love so profusely. It is life changing. I am thinking of your husband, you & your family.

  7. Nichole

    My husband has so many fun stories to share with the kids. Like the time when he was little and his parents decided to take them on a SUMMER LONG road trip to show them the United States. Three boys on a round trip across the country!? Can you imagine? Now that's brave!

    Thank you for commenting. I can't express just how much it means to me.

  8. I'm so sorry. My heart aches for you. You and your family are in my thoughts. ::hug::

  9. Nichole

    Today has been a day filled with sadness and longing to rewind time a bit…to try to squeeze more in. One more story, one more laugh, one more smile.
    I am so incredibly grateful for the mother that she was to my husband as he was growing up. He is kind, tender, strong, and loving. I credit her for this and I'm so grateful to her.

    Thank you so very much for your kind thoughts.

  10. Nichole

    Thank you, Kris.
    And thank you for the email earlier, filled with words of comfort.

    I have no doubt that there will be a line of loved ones to tell stories about you when your time comes–stories filled with laughter and tenderness.

  11. Adrienne

    I'm so deeply sad that she is leaving so soon. She will make her exit in the best possible way: peacefully, surrounded by the people who love her and who she loves.

    When the pain is too big and it threatens to swallow you, remember: breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. The depth of our grief matches the depth of our love.

    Sending you much love now.

  12. Kristi Maristi

    Oh my, my heart goes out to you and your family. I never know what to say…Your children will know her through your memories. I have pain with this all the time. I adored my grandmother and am often brought to tears of the fact that she never got to see my son, my accomplishment, the greatest thing I've ever done. she didn't get to experience it with me. Uggh. Love to you guys oxox.

  13. Shana

    I'm so sorry… You paint a very vivid picture of a grandmother I'm sure your children will miss, but they are very lucky that you and Craig will be able to share your memory of her!

  14. Kathy

    Your words are so eloquent what a beautiful tribute to a amazing woman. I pray for you and your family during this difficult transition. Find solace in her final peace and know that she will always be with you, in the hearts and smiles of all that loved her.

    I am wiping my eyes now, take care Nichole, Craig, Katie and baby Matthew.

  15. jen

    So beautifully written. I wish there were words for you. I have none but these–may God grant your family comfort and peace. I'm sorry.

  16. Nancy MacDonald

    You've captured so much of what made Sharon who she was…her amazing creativity and bright spirit, her ready smile, her sensitivity, her great intelligence and quick wit, her great love for her boys and their families. Such gifts will live on in her sons and grandchildren. Although I cried through this, I am grateful to you for writing it. Those tears needed to spill.

  17. What a lovely tribute.

    My heart goes out in sympathy to you and your family, most especially to your husband, during such a difficult time.

    I'm glad for you all that you have such joyful memories to keep alive when she is gone.

  18. Kathy

    Nichole, what a beautiful post, I feel like I know her now also. Was she sick or was this sudden? I hope your family can come to terms with her parting and wish all of you the best. You are in my thoughts and prayers..

  19. Mommy C


    I am going to post this comment between sobs because your letter has hit so close to home. My step mom has stage 4 cancer and is hoping for "a few more years", but even if she makes it 3-4 years my son will not remember her. She is a lot like the woman you describe in your letter and it saddens me to think S won't get a chance to witness her grace. Because of all of this I am traveling back east to stay with them for a few weeks this summer. So that I can at least tell him of the time he spent with her when he was just 6 months old. Maybe I will write a letter similar to yours when the time comes.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I can't imagine that it was easy to write or to post. I imagine that this is an incredibly difficult time for your family and my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

    With Love,

  20. thenextmartha

    This is so beautiful. What a wonderful way to celebrate her life with your words to your children.

  21. Gina Nash


    Craigs mother sounds like an amazing woman! I am so sorry for your impending loss. My grandmother died when Gabriella was 2. I was extreemly close to her and was terribly sad that my children would not have the chance to really know her. As time has gone on Gabbi has heard countless stories about Grandma Jane and speaks of her as if she knows her which warms my heart. Take comfort in knowing that someone with that kind of impact on your life will always be a part of you. You will effortlessly share her with your children throughout thier lives because of the wonderful impact she made on you.

  22. Jess

    Your message will be such a treasure for Katie and Matthew to read in the future. I'm so sorry to hear this. Please know we are thinking of you and Craig. Our hearts and prayers go out to you.

  23. Nichole

    I cannot imagine your husband's pain from losing his mother at such a young age. My heart breaks for your children, as it does for mine. I am blessed to still have both of my grandmothers–they have played such a huge role in my life.

    Life is truly so fragile, isn't it?

    Thank you so much for stopping by and for offering kindness.

  24. Nichole

    Thank you for coming by and for keeping us in your thoughts, Abigail. My family truly appreciates your kindness.

  25. Nichole

    Your words have echoed through my head many times over the last few days. "Breathe in, breathe out" has become our family mantra.

    Love to you.

  26. Nichole

    That's one of the hardest parts–losing a loved one before they can really see what we've created.

    Craig's mom will miss out on seeing just how amazing our kids turn out.

    Your grandmother would be so proud of you–you are an amazing mother. But, I'm sure that she never doubted that you would be.


  27. Nichole

    Thank you so much for stopping by, Shana.

    I just hope that the stories that we tell Katie and Matthew will do her justice. I find that I'm coming up short with the words to express just how dynamic she is.

  28. Nichole

    Thank you for your kind words, Kathy.

    It never ceases to amaze me just how comforting it is to know that our family is being remembered and prayed for during this difficult time.

  29. Nichole

    There really are no words, are there?
    Your wishes for comfort and peace, however, mean more than you could possibly know.

    Thank you, Jen.

  30. Nichole

    I think you just did her a great justice by describing her so beautifully, Nancy.

    I pray that Sean, Janelle, Craig, and I will be able to keep her memory alive and share with our children the whimsy and magic that made her so amazing.

    Love you.

  31. Nichole

    Thank you so much, Kathy.
    She has been sick on and off for years.
    We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and can't thank you enough for remembering us.

  32. Nichole


    I am so terribly sorry to hear that your step mother is so ill.

    Grace is one of those traits that so few people possess. From the love in your words, I can tell that you will do an amazing job of sharing her spirit with your son.

    I wish that I could rewind time and write letters along the way. I would give anything to have stacks of letters to share with my kids.

    Perhaps you might keep a journal of the time that you share with your step mom this summer. Even the most random details will mean the world to your son one day.

    Those weeks that you spend with her will be a gift to both her and to your son.

    I wish you a wonderful visit and peace when her time comes.

    Big hugs.

  33. Nancy MacDonald

    I didn't think of this before, but maybe if you have the opportunity and would like to, you could read that description to her and tell her that is how I will always remember her.

    Love you, too, Nichole.

  34. Tonya

    What a beautiful picture you paint. You have such a way with words. I only hope I can be so eloquent and honest and heartfelt when I tell my son about those that we have lost.

  35. Such a lovely, heartbreakingly honest post. Thank you for sharing this.

  36. My heart goes out to you and Craig, my dear friend.

  37. Rusti

    I'm not sure how I managed to get here a year later… but I'm still sorry for your loss… the first year was rough for us… they're getting slightly easier now… but only a little.

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