She was here.

by

There’s a chair I think of, while I’ve got one hand on his back, while she curls in my lap. It’s white, squat, with funny brass studs along all the seams and back. It’s the chair I sat in while I waited for my grandmother to die.

I remember that chair today, I think about other furniture in her room, and I think, Oh, I wish I had that chair. And then I decide maybe I don’t want it after all. It’s hard, and I sat and sat and sat there, in my own silent waiting world, usually alone. Other people huddled together in the basement. They talked, they ate, they told stories.

Me, I sat in that chair. I ran my fingers over the brass studs, I rarely shifted position. It was my chair. My waiting chair.

Lately during naptime I find myself thinking of my grandmother. It first happened last week. I don’t remember what was happening, but I know I was angry and tired and frustrated. I wanted them to sleep, and sleep now.

And out of nowhere I had an instant and perfectly clear image – the little green candies my grandmother ate. Shaped like a half circle, thick jelly, with a bit of sugar on the outside. I thought about how a plastic bag of these were put in her grave, and how they had to come back out when a graveyard guy ran up and said he forgot to put the right sticker on her urn.

And while I was thinking about these candies, I suddenly felt surrounded by my grandmother. Not sad, not hoping, not anything. Just a mother sitting on the floor, trying to get her kids to sleep, while her grandmother looked on. All the anger and frustration was washed away. I felt like grandma was there to offer me support on that bad day. I calmed. I felt her. The babies went straight to sleep the second I felt her, and it was like a huge gift.

It’s good they went straight to sleep, because as I sat there, singing, tears filled my eyes and my voice cracked. I couldn’t sing anymore. Tears rolled down my face, I missed her so much, but somehow she was right there and comforting me.

And so now she seems to be there, not as strong as that day last week. Now she’s there in memory. I think about how hot and stuffy her playhouse at the lake was. I think of how she let me run wild, take a canoe and escape, learn all the back watery ways and never wonder about if I was safe. She trusted me. She thought I was capable.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s what she came by to let me know. Or maybe she came by to put my kids to sleep so I could crawl into bed and rest, even though I sat there crying in her presence, not wanting to leave my children’s room in case I left her and never had another moment like this.

Maybe she wasn’t there at all, but I think she was, and it goes against my skeptical, atheist leanings for sure, but it feels right. Today I’m so far from my family, my mother is over 3,000 miles and an ocean (and expensive plane tickets!) away, but my grandmother? She came to visit last week.

I don’t need that chair. I don’t need that heavy piece of furniture, that weirdly white leather chair. I just need to keep remembering the green gum drops, the front closet full of silky scarves, the secret passageways in her attic, the ticking of the clock in her front room.

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5 Responses to “She was here.”

  1. bellygirls Says:

    What a lovely post. This brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Bobbie Says:

    What an amazing story! I’ve had a similar experience so I understand how that feels. I’m so glad you were comforted when you needed to be and I promise that feeling will never leave you. It’s like a beautiful scarf up on a shelf that you can take down whenever you want to feel it, when you need to lovingly run your fingers over it, when you need to feel the comfort of it around your shoulders. It will always be there, just as she was always there for you.

  3. Katie B. Says:

    *sniff*

  4. mamacrow Says:

    lovely! I have no doubt but that she was – and is – there. And I don’t see why this experience isn’t compatable with atheist leanings, energy dosn’t need to be part of a religious hirarchy – love is above all that, love is the ultimate energy xx

  5. Winnie Says:

    This was so wonderful. Thank you for sharing this experience. I’m glad she’s there for you.

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