The Last Goodbye

My paternal grandmother died just one month shy of my daughter’s second birthday.

They always had a special relationship, the two of them. My grandmother was in poor health. She was on kidney dialysis the last years of her life due to chronic uncontrolled hypertension. She had many rambunctious great-grandchildren, but due to her medical fragility she did not always feel up to their visits. My dad, however, would take my daughter Kiera to see her every week. I worried about the impact of such visits on her health but my dad assured me that grandma wanted to see Kiera.

While the other grandkids rattled her with their noise and boundless energy, Kiera seemed to understand what grandma needed. She was quiet, gentle. She would crawl into grandma’s lap and snuggle or read books. She was a calming force. My grandma called her “special” and labelled her as an old soul. She looked forward to Kiera’s visits and actually hid a toy stash especially for her.

Eventually grandma got cancer. Her body was not strong enough for surgery or other treatment. When the cancer debilitated her to the point where she could not attend dialysis, her organs shut down quickly. In those last weeks, she was so ill that we no longer took Kiera to see her.

The night she died, I remember sitting on the couch with my mom watching Kiera play in the floor with her building blocks. My dad came home after spending the evening with grandma. It was evident from the look on his face that the end was near. In hushed tones, he updated us on her condition.

As we spoke, I heard Kiera’s little high-pitched voice from the floor. I could hear the sing-song tone of her voice but it took me a few moments to pay attention to what she was saying.

“Bye bye, geet gamma…. geet gamma, bye bye…. bye bye geet gamma..”

(geet gamma = great grandma in Kiera toddler speak)

Still seated on the floor, she had turned away from us and she was staring up at the ceiling in the far corner of the living room. She opened and closed her tiny hand toward the corner in that adorable way that toddlers wave goodbye.

She continued to chant, “bye bye, geet gamma…. geet gamma, bye bye…. bye bye geet gamma..”

This went on for about 30 seconds. Then she turned back to her blocks and continued playing as if nothing happened. She was oblivious to the three adults in the room that were now watching her silently. Speechless.

I have to admit, when I first realized what she was doing, my blood ran cold. It was an eerie moment. As I listened to her voice, the chill abated and I felt comfort. Kiera sounded happy and cheerful with no trace of fear.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang. It was my aunt calling to let us know that grandma had passed away… about ten minutes before.

I know that not everyone believes in ghosts or paranormal, supernatural activity. Some people have logical explanations for everything, including the above story. I believe that love creates an energy that is powerful enough to transcend time and space. It was wonderful to see something right before my eyes that validated that belief (at least to me). No one will ever convince me that it was anything other than my grandma stopping by to say goodbye to her very special great-granddaughter.


If We Were Having Coffee… 7/31

If we were having coffee today, the last day of July and the last day of my vacation (on the eve of the day I have to return to the place that shall not be named), I would not speak of my sadness regarding the last few hours of freedom. I would not. I have had a great week. I have slept in. I have spent time with my kids. I have been available for them, able to chauffeur them to activities, relax with them and just enjoy them. The value of this is indescribable.

They have two weeks of summer left, but the girls are ready for school. Well, new shoes, clothes and supplies have been bought. The girls aren’t actually ready  to go back. They are holding onto the last drops of summer with a death grip. They have gotten used to staying up late and sleeping in so we need to start the awkward dance of getting them back on a bedtime routine (which should be as fun as a root canal).

At this point I would turn the conversation over to you. I would try not to think about rejoining the daily grind tomorrow as I listened to you, escaping into your stories.

So, catch me up. What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Thanks to Part Time Monster for hosting Weekend Coffee Share. Join in by creating your own coffee share post with the tag weekendcoffeeshare and/or add to the linkup here.