It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning – my day to sleep in, but I’m awake.
Last night as I held C, asleep and gently snoring in my arms, I prayed like I usually do, for the usual things. But yesterday was busy, and I realized I’d gone through the whole day without thinking of Nan.
With my daughter’s head sweating in the crook of my arm, smelling of stale peanut butter and play-doh, I thought of my grandmothers. I told God how much I missed them both, that I don’t suppose they probably know or care anymore about the things of this earth, but that he could take that information for what it was worth and pass it along maybe.
Sometimes, when it’s quiet and I have time to reflect, I just want to see them or talk to them. But what I desire most is to know that they’re okay. I just want to know they’re okay.
As I thought and prayed, I kept that part to myself – refraining from officially asking for a “sign.” I know it’s futile and silly to ask for such things, but behind my prayer I was asking for God to know my heart.
I woke early this morning from a dream. It’s always a dream in these scenarios, isn’t it?
I bustle around, getting ready for a family gathering. The din is growing inside as people arrive. Aunt Sharon and Mom help me put the final touches on things, laying out table clothes and doilies, making things look nice. Aunt Linda arrives with a dish – corn casserole, no doubt. I pass my neighbor, Melanie, as I make my way inside carrying a rug I’ve found in the garage. She is sitting just outside the door as the crowd gathers inside and I’m embarrassed to see that our dog, Chloe, has spilled kibble everywhere right at the doorstep. I dismiss the kibble as annoying to Melanie and kick it away with my foot as I lay the rug down to cover the rest.
I hear her say behind me as I’m bent over, “Hi, Nan.”
I turned to see Nanny standing in the kitchen of her trailer.
My smile is broad. Joy swells in my chest because she looks incredible. She’s had her hair done, her face and body are full and sturdy. She looks like Nan 30 years ago, except her hair is in gray curls, soft and close to her head.
“You look AMAZING!” I gush.
She grunts, “huh” skeptically but playfully.
“No really, you look great! I love your hair!”
I hug her as I always do when she arrives for family parties. But this time, we link arms and sneak away from the family. I lay my head on her shoulder as we make our way into her living room. It’s just as she left it, buckled carpet and all.
“Be careful, don’t trip over the carpet,” I say, but we continue, linked, through her trailer, into the second room, her steps deft. She leads me to the round table off to the side where there is a lamp and some sort of shiny ornament hanging from the top. She grabs the trinket.
“These were fun for an old woman,” she says simply, referring to all of the gadgets, charms, and baubles that filled her trailer.
And right then and there, I consider whether I’ll let the knick-knacks and doodads pile up around me when I’m old some day. In that moment, for the first time, I see how living among silly things brings joy to some. I decide I’ll collect all the things, just as she did.
We link arms again, I lay my head on her shoulder once more, and we head back toward her bedroom, but she stops. She says she doesn’t want to go back there. Somehow, I understand. We turn around and make our way back toward the hubbub.
As we pass once more through the living room, she says she should just get rid of those wedding rings. “He paid too much for ’em anyway,” she says, referring to my grandfather. She tuts again, in her signature way, waving off how silly it is to pay too much for things.
“Let’s eat, I’m hungry,” she says, the ring and cadence of her words a perfect fit for every time I’ve ever heard her speak.
We finally make it back to the kitchen – her kitchen, in her trailer – where it’s bright and people are laughing, and eating, and talking.
My brother, Travis, stands at the counter waiting for us.
“What did you two talk about?” he asks teasingly, as if he knows we shared some secret in the other room.
“Oh, nothing,” I say coyly.
She says it again, in front of the motley of food and dessert spread over her counter, “I’m hungry, let’s eat.”
I’m hungry too. I look down to see one of Nanny’s fruit pies, a third already gone.
A few years ago, when my other grandma, Grandma Ginni, passed, I asked for the same comfort. It was a hot summer evening a couple months after her passing and I just wanted to know one thing: Is she okay?
The response I got was resounding. It would have chilled my bones, had it not carried such warmth and peace in the moment of delivery, and I’ll never forget it.
I know she’s okay.
I woke from the dream. Every gesture and word rang true, the surroundings and sounds stamped in my brain in vivid detail. When my awareness returned, I began the task of trying to remember every fraction of the dream. I played it over and over, her voice, tone, and mood, committing them to memory. I know tomorrow I’ll forget.
Even as I write this, it’s slipping away quietly in my mind, like Nanny and I slipped away quietly in my dream.
But that’s okay.
I know she’s okay.