My name is Vivian and among many descriptors I am a writer, a thinker and a really bad joke teller. I am also a survivor of loss.
I was 10 years old when I lost my mom. She was in the hospital for three months before she passed away. My age made it okay for me to grieve. In elementary school, with my family, the expectation was that I wouldn’t just bounce back.
Fast forward 11 years, I’m 21, a senior in college and one of my grandmother’s primary caregivers. This time the numbers and scenarios were different. She was in and out of the hospital for 5 months, the last time she was admitted she was in for 2 days before we knew this was the beginning of the real end.
I was expected to make decisions and be strong. I was expected to bounce back. To an extent, I did — I went back to school immediately following the funeral. I graduated college. I did what I had to do, but just because I wasn’t given “real” permission to grieve doesn’t mean I’m not.
Too Damn Young’s story starts in the middle of mine.
One of my favorite pieces that I have had the honor to publish is “Don’t Ask Me How My Dad Died, Ask Me How He Lived.”
When someone dies you focus on the death so much more than on their life.
Here’s my attempt to do the opposite:
BIRTHDAY: February 24
#1 LESSON: How to forgive and not get upset because as she would tell me in Spanish, “you have two problems now: being upset and finding a way to get happy again.”
MEMORY TRIGGERS: The smell of her perfume, red nail polish and any time I see someone with mid-length auburn hair.
BIRTHDAY: July 18
#1 LESSON: Never forget to laugh. My grandmother’s life was anything but easy, but in those moments when her guard was down or she was surrounded by family she always chose laughter.
MEMORY TRIGGERS: Polka dots, napkins and my dog.