Grandma

Last month, I felt a pull to visit my grandparents’ graves. Not one to believe that the soul/spirit remains in one static place after death, nevertheless, I found myself driving, alone, to sit and pay my respects to them on what would be their wedding anniversary. It reminded me of this blog piece I’d written for another website last year. For those who haven’t seen it…it follows here…

grandma-and-nikkiMy grandmother was always the one who seemed to know what to do. She was always the logical one. She loved me endlessly, unconditionally, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t tell me that I was wrong if she disagreed with me. I lived in her home from four years old to eleven years old and considered her my second mother, and spent my childhood listening to my grandparents and their friends having big raucous parties filled with serious discussion and heated political debate, challenging games of scrabble, Cab Calloway songs, and lots of love.

In February of 1994, one month after the Northridge Earthquake shook me to my core, my grandmother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. She didn’t smoke, and no one could tell her why this had happened to her. She had battled asthma all her life and had recently overcome a bad fall and injury to her hip, and a bout of Lyme Disease. She was always pretty resilient.

But Cancer was different.

By October of that year, I had moved to New York to be closer to her. The months I spent with her before her death were moving and horrible, loving and transformational. We talked about beliefs and life after death. I believed in it, she did not. Though despite this, she was not afraid.

She passed away on Valentine’s Day 1995, one year after her diagnosis. A day devoted to love was forever indelibly linked to a beloved grandmother’s death. This was the first time that I had ever lost someone I was close to. I can remember her funeral. Sitting in the memorial service, the rain was pouring down, streaming down the windows as if the world was crying for her. I was still in disbelief that she was gone.

Later that day, back at the house, the family gathered for food and reminiscing. But mostly, there was chatter. Lots of chatter. The chatter of people who were connected by blood, but hadn’t seen each other in years. I felt confused. How could these people who loved her be chattering about their own lives right now? What was all this meaningless chatter. I couldn’t take it. I was overwhelmed with grief. I ran upstairs to a bedroom and crawled beneath the collected coats and scarves amassed on the bed. Curled up and silent, I wished for the release of sleep.

For the next three nights in a row, I dreamed of my grandmother. In each dream, it was the same. We were sitting in her kitchen, as I spent many, many years of my childhood and adult life doing. She told me to look after my grandfather. After the third night, she was gone. That is…until one night, a couple of years later, when I was going to bed and I said a small prayer. I told my grandmother that I missed her and that I loved her and I heard, as clear as day, a voice that sounded like it was heard over a transistor radio, “I love you too.” I started for a moment and asked the voice if she had spoken to anyone else. My mother, a cousin… but there was no answer.

I then asked, “Are you happy? Are you OK?” In the next moment, I felt glowing warmth over my entire body, as if I were lying on a beach in the warm summer sun. In that moment, I knew she was okay. I felt relieved. I felt love.

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