“Oh, Natalie! I’m so happy to see you!” she says as she runs towards me with her arms open wide to give me a huge hug.
“Mellie! I’ve missed you so much! I can’t believe you are here!”
Our embrace is strong and I don’t want to let go. I can feel her hugging me back and I can smell her. I’m crying – happy tears – and I know that our time together is going to go by much too quickly.
“Oh, honey. I know that you’ve missed me but I’m with you always. I was there when my sister called to let you know that I had passed away. And I was there when you held my hand and cried because I was gone. I was there when you held Jason and helped him grieve.
I was there when you found out you were pregnant with Ethan and I was there when you delivered him. You made Jason so happy – I’ve never seen him so happy! I was there when Lila and Mia were born and I made sure that they were safe while you were recovering from your c-section anesthesia. I know you were worried about them, but there was never any reason to…I was there.
I was there when you and Jason brought your children home and during all those nights you were awake to feed them…it was me whispering that you COULD do this and that you ARE a good mom, even when you had your biggest doubts and thought you couldn’t go on.
And where are my beautiful grandchildren?”
“Mellie, this is Ethan.”
“He’s even more beautiful than I thought he was!” And with that, she scoops him up into her arms and whispers that she is his Grandma Mellie. He tells her “I know. I love you Grandma. Mommy and Daddy tell me about you all the time. Can you stay with us?”
“No, I can’t. I can only stay a few hours. But I want you to show me your dance moves.”
“Okay, Grandma! Watch this guys!” And he dances off with his little guitar to show us his moves.
“Mellie, this is Lila and this is Mia.”
The twins run directly into her waiting arms. They point at her and plant the open mouth kisses that they are normally so stingy about giving right on her cheeks and eyes and lips. “Well, you girls are beautiful! Lila, you look just like your Auntie S! Mia, you look just like your brother and your mom.”
“Hey Grandma! Check this out!” Ethan than starts air-guitaring, Jimi Hendrix style.
“Yes Ethan! You are such a good dancer and guitar player!”
“Mellie, the kids have to leave now. I’m so glad that you got to meet them and that they got to meet you and see how wonderful you are.”
“Bye Grandma! Come back and see me again. I love you!” And they are gone.
I spend the rest of our brief time together asking for her opinions and advice on being a mom. I ask her for her secret recipes and how she makes the cookies that Jason loves so much. I try to fill her in on our lives; the day-to-day stuff and the big events, even though I know that she sees it all. I tell her that I don’t want her to go back to Heaven, that I can’t tell her goodbye again. That it isn’t fair that she doesn’t get to see her grandkids grow up: their first sports games, their first days of school, the days they get married and have their own children.
“But I will be there. You won’t be able to see me, but sometimes you will hear me or feel me or smell me. And on those days that you feel like you just can’t do it anymore, those days you feel like you can’t be a mom because you aren’t any good at it…those are the days that I stand right next to you and give you the energy and the courage to keep going. Those days that you wish I was there and you cry because I’m missing out on something big or small, I’m there then, too.”
“It isn’t the same thing, though. I feel like you were cheated, that we were all cheated.”
“I know, but I promise you, I am always there.”
I feel her wrap her arms around me one more time, and she is gone.
And so it goes…