August 6, 2021

A Letter to You: the One who Taught me How to be Independent & Free.

You Taught Me How to Be Independent & Free as A Woman.

I don’t know what your childhood truly looked like. 

I don’t know, I mean exactly, why you became the way you were—you.

I don’t know how it was to raise three kids just after WWII.

I’m unsure how you felt when you lost your man. You were too young. So unexpectedly—in the middle of a summer that should have been joyful.

I don’t know how you did all the work you did.

I remember that your feet were always hurting. This is because you stood up for too long in your shops for women, amongst your cotton threads, lace, and buttons—your palaces of mysteries.

I’m not aware of the mistakes you may have made as you were raising them—as you were raising my mom.

I will never know if your own collapses of the heart could explain her own—what errors or false notes we inherited from you.

I don’t know.


But I know tonight, as I’m hearing an old Parisian song that feels like you, that you have been my heroine. 

My Grandmother.

I don’t know much about the daily events and rebirths, which actually were the making of you.

I don’t know about being almost brought to death by poisoned milk made by war opponents—as you were only two.

I know nothing about rescuing an invaded soldier—my future grandfather—in the middle of nowhere of the Pyrenees of Southern France.

I don’t know how it was to be left aside by your own mum in the 1920s or so. Her big spectacles. Her leaving on boats. Her travels to Indochina.

She chose talent over motherhood.

She chose her singer career over raising you.

You have inherited her grace, though. 

We all do.


You made me find out that wisdom doesn’t age—the Crone woman is so accurate for the Maiden.

You taught me to make cookies. You also said not to get pregnant too soon.

I remember your discreet advice about life. And all the joys and craziness that we travelled through.

The day you lost your son, my uncle, you stayed alive, but your life started to fade out.

You started to feel like air and salt afterwards, ethereal, slowly asking life to release you.

I picture your last Christmas with us, three months before you travelled to the kingdom of angels. I remember your joy. Or maybe you were trying to be happy for us—for me.

I do remember you for always doing your best, for always trying.

You had this kind of gentle authority. You were “only” the grandma. But I always listened to you.


I recall that you told me all of your stories, our stories—the stories of our women—as if you were transmitting a torch, a baton to me.

I can only understand now how lucky I was to have grown up with you.

So lucky to become a woman immersed in the story of the women who came before her.

I didn’t know how you felt on your last day. I was away. I was trying to grow.

I still hope you were not too sad I wasn’t home.

I know that I never found the strength to go and see you in your last dress.

It is because angels never die.

It is because I wanted to keep another memory of you.

So I chose to remember your softness, your solidity amongst all types of wars, your blue and purple dresses, your amethyst and amber necklaces, all the yellow and orange birds you took care of, their songs, your songs. You were a singer too.

You never aged, Lily. You were never old.

You always were a blend of grace and wisdom—of strength and hope.

It is as nice to not be able to share this all with you.

Life doesn’t always give you the time and space to say a proper farewell. Sometimes, you are not even as ripe as you should be when the goodbye time is announced.

Sometimes you are just too young. That’s when ice in your heart is born. If truth is forever shut down, kept as a secret in the kingdom of your heart’s sunny drawers.

This is why we must write. This is why we must recall.

So that the thread never dies.

So that stories are not ephemeral.

So that key things and episodes aren’t wind but stones.


You never read my writings, my poems. However, so many were about you.

If I had a daughter, she would bear the same name as you.

Lily, like a spring lucky charm.

You made me trust in women’s power too.

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Sophie Gregoire  |  Contribution: 20,580

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