Susan Cohen 1

Dana and Renée then . . .

My two granddaughters are applying to colleges. This involves a lot more than I remember doing: college visits, inviting softball coaches to watch them play, posting grades, SAT scores, and videos on an NCAA website. It’s all a very big deal.

Sometimes, when I think about it . . . I am sad.

They are cousins, born 10 weeks apart, and best friends. I try to see them separately once in a while because when they are together, they are glued to each other. At 17 they are either in the bedroom trying on clothes and planning what to wear or in the bathroom doing their hair and putting on make-up. When they were younger they would disappear to plan their performances, because every get-together ended with a show. Now they raid my jewelry box, borrow T-shirts to sleep in, and wear my shoes when they fit. There is a coat that one would wear going out and the other wear on the way home.

I have treasured every moment . . . but I am sad.

When they were small, they would climb into bed with us, one waking first, chattering as soon as her eyes opened, the other not saying a peep. Her sleep shirt read “I don’t do mornings.” At night it usually took many visits to the living room, where they slept on a convertible sofa, to get them to stop talking and go to sleep. Five minutes later they were giggling again. When I thought they were asleep I would finally close my eyes. Years later, they told me they had figured out how to whisper in each other’s ear so quietly that I would think they were sleeping. It worked and they stayed up till 2.

I wouldn’t trade anything . . . but I am sad.

We took them to museums and movies, Broadway shows, opera, and out to dinner all over New York City.  As they got older, dressing up became more and more important, so that now shopping in the city is their favorite activity. They are planning on living here after college, so they like to pretend they already live here. This means they don’t walk with us anymore or sit with us on buses and subways.

Every sleepover was special . . . but I am sad.

They both fell in love with softball at the same time and became quite good at it. One is the stronger pitcher, the other the better batter. We have followed them around the Northeast watching games in all kinds of weather, baking cookies for each team. There were two years when they played in the same tournament, and my nightmare was that they would play against each other. Thankfully, it never happened. One summer they played on the same team—which saved us traveling to separate games. They would tell you it was their best summer. Ever. They hope to play softball in college. (They have different career goals, so they’ve applied to separate schools.)

Even though I froze every spring and broiled every summer, I wouldn’t have missed a game . . . but I am sad.

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. . . and Renée and Dana now.

All are wonderful memories to be treasured . . . but I am sad.

I hear them singing in the back seat of the car, at the top of their voices, on the drive home from our summer house in Connecticut—singing the latest pop song, the score from the last show we saw, the song they are writing for the next celebration, I hear them at the piano for hour after hour, practicing one song till they got it right. I hear them yelling for help—“There’s a bug on the wall!”—or their voices on the phone, wanting to know when we will see them.

We have tapes of phone messages they have left . . . but I am sad.

I have loved every age and phase they have gone through. I have been fortunate to be able to see tap dancing recitals, recorder concerts, two violins playing “Happy Birthday,” and especially the wonderful shows they created and performed. They have worn eye patches and glasses, braces on their teeth and kinetic tape down their legs for shin splints. They have gone from wearing only dresses to wearing only jeans, and now they wear either. I have walked miles shopping with them for both.

I wouldn’t have changed a thing . . . but I am sad.

They are so incredibly special. They are compassionate, loving, loyal, and giving. They are writers and artists, and I have saved all of it—their stories, songs, poems, plays, and notes they have left on my phone, the interviews for the video they made to celebrate a birthday, the pictures they have created, as well as the place cards and decorations for every holiday dinner. They have baked in my kitchen, making cupcakes that look like turkeys.

They make my heart smile . . . but I am sad.

I know that I have been fortunate to be part of their growing up, because they’ve lived close enough for babysitting, lunch dates, and lots of sleepovers. They have grown into remarkable young women, with bright wonderful futures ahead of them. I’m sure of it. But I am sad that this part of their lives is over. The past 17 years have been filled with laughter and wonderful memories. I know our lives will be filled with more laughter and equally wonderful memories. But Renée and Dana will be adults then and children no more.

So I am sad.

Oh, well, I guess we’ll have to go to Italy to get over it.