A big theme of my writing for my capstone project is the idea of heaven. I like to contemplate heaven because so many people I love are there. I miss them. I lost my Grandma (above with my Grandpa…aren’t they the cutest?!) when I was eight years old. A little kid can only fathom so much about cancer. I barely grasped the concept. Sure, Grandma was sick, but she’d been sick before, and she would get better.
I practically lived at my Grandma’s house when I was growing up. One of the many benefits of being homeschooled was that I could pack up my books and take them to her house while my Mom took care of whatever she needed that day. I’d sprawl out on my stomach on her living room floor, kicking my legs back and forth as I worked through science and spelling and math.
“Which picture do you think I should use to practice my handwriting on, Grandma?” I remember asking her one day.
She had paused for just a fraction of a second. “Well, why don’t you describe them to me, dear?” Everyone was “dear” to Grandma Mary.
I winced. It was hard for me to remember she was legally blind sometimes. She had a way of looking straight through you with those gentle, clear brown eyes that made it easy to forget.
“Sorry, Grandma.” I’d hoped I hadn’t embarrassed her.
“It’s okay. I want to know about them. You tell me what they look like.” She closed her eyes and waited.
I peeked up at her for a minute but when she didn’t move, I began slowly, “Well…they’re, like, borders, you know, around the lines where I have to write.” I faltered miserably.
“And, so, one of them is zoo themed. It has elephants and lions and a monkey and…stuff.”
“What is the monkey doing?”
I laughed. “He’s hanging from a tree with his tail and making a funny face at the tiger, ’cause he can’t reach him.”
She laughed, too. “What about the other one?”
“It’s flowers. Roses and daisies and….what are the ones that look like little white bells?”
“Lilies of the valley?”
“Oh, those are my favorite.” She opened her eyes and smiled. “Why don’t you do that one?”
It’s funny, but I look back at that time and realize that’s where my love for describing things began. I wanted my Grandma’s approval on everything, so I became a storyteller focused on describing things to the smallest detail for her. “Grandma, Mom bought me this new sweatshirt, and it’s reversible. Which side should I wear? One side is just pure sky blue, and one side has lilac and pink stripes. Well, not stripes, really, but…they’re…” I stopped, frustrated.
“Keep going.” She was always encouraging me to find the right words when I felt stuck. “What do they look like? Not stripes?”
“No. Well, they are, but…they’re those really skinny stripes. That make boxes because they crisscross each other.”
“Lilac and pink plaid?”
“Plaid!” That was the word. “Which side should I wear?”
“Oh, the sky blue. It’s perfect for this spring day. Is it nice outside?”
“SO nice, Grandma. It’s sunny now but there are the best puddles out front from that rain storm. Your lilacs are blooming in the back and they make the whole yard smell wonderful. Your violets are up, too–the dark purple ones and the white ones with the purple streaks like whiskers on the flower’s face. And so are those….what are those yellow flowers that grow on your fence? You know, the ones that make a tunnel that I can crawl through and it’s so thick no one can see me.”
“My forsythia are blooming already?!” Grandma loved her flowers. She patted her thighs in excitement, her traditional way of clapping.
“Yeah!” I loved being her eyes. I wanted to do what she loved. I wanted her to be proud of me.
I miss her.
In a place where you’ve transcended time and space, where redemption has won, you are free.
Your name is engraved in eternity, the concept of sadness baffling; from there, I know you’re watching me.
In a place where you observe me, your loving eyes so clear,
With the brightness of the sun below you, no more pain. Not a single tear.
My life decisions occasionally arouse fear. Would you approve? Would you be proud?
Where the purist is given salvation, the symphony plays for you harmoniously. Loud.
Instantaneously, I realize my doubts are unfounded, my worries without cause.
For when I close my eyes and listen with my heart,
I swear I can hear your applause.