Throughout much of my adolescence, I had quite extensive braces. As my mouth would try to get accustomed to a recent fitting, tightening, I would frequently bite my tongue or cheek.
While normally nothing, I whined about it a bit (after it happened twice in a row!) while I happened to be around my grandmother. As an accomplished nurse epidemiologist, she informed me that once you bite yourself like that (usually accidentally), the area swells up. And once it swells (INSIDE your mouth), it is so much easier for you to accidentally bite yourself again! That was a complete revelation to me at the time.
I must have been around 10 or 11 when she told me this, back when I spent most summers with her and my grandpa, taking sailing lessons. And to this day, every time I bite my lip or tongue or inside of my cheek (it happens more often than I'd like to admit), I always cautiously feel it and try to determine how much swelling there is, always fearing the imminent second bite, as Bub always warned me.
I have advice from her that I remember every day. Embarrassing moments she witnessed that I remember more than I care to, if only to save my own humility. Family history she listed off that I wish I remembered more of. Or scientific ramblings that she'd listen to me rattle off. Things come up almost every day day that either remind me of Bub, or remind me of some sage advice she waved at me on the way back from a rant on my end.
As we approach 6 months since her passing, there's still things that make me think of Bub almost every day. I think of all the wisdom she passed on to me in common place conversations. I miss the way she called me "shana punim". Even more so -- I miss how my future children will never hear her coo that to them. They'll never hear her coo how perfect they are, even though no one is perfect except HER great grandchildren. I'll miss her telling stories about how she snatched my future babe, like she did me, IN the delivery room, before my hubs even gets a chance. Just as I smiled at her, her first great grandchild would have smiled and spoke to her, in a way only great grandchildren can speak, minutes after birth.
And just as she would wax poetic to me, all my life and right up until my last visit, about her mother (who I am named for) would have loved me, so will my mother have to tell the story about how much HER mother would love whoever comes along next. As Jason and I approach our fourth anniversary next month, I do think a little bit into the future (no buns in the oven, yet!). And while I didn't have a lot of references for the stories she'd tell me, I cherish them now as they quickly fade from my memory, and I selfishly am excited for the day when I can share about where I learned the curse of biting your own cheek.
As Bub still flows in and out of my every-day life, I wonder, both hopefully and sorrowfully, when these things will start to fade from the every day. How soon/long before I remember back only a week? And then it's only a month at a time? How long before I have to be reminded of her yartzeit because the year passed too quickly without her memory? But how long before every day has the weight of mourning on my chest?