“Did she leave?” Briar asked, her blue eyes shining with knowing. Grandma had carefully explained that she would be leaving, from the sun’s first move toward the horizon, she began to tenderly plant the seeds.
“Grandma is going to be going on a plane, but we’ll talk on the phone.”
Her voice was light, her face cheery as she painted a picture of phone calls and memories. The girls nodded at the suggestion of practicing a phone call.
“Hello, Briar? Avery? It’s Grandma.”
The role playing only held their attention for so long, requiring Grandma to revisit the theme every so often to ensure that when she left in the pre-dawn hours, the empty bed the girls would wake up to wouldn’t leave them distraught. Between apple slices and bedtime stories she would quietly and gently remind them, “So, tomorrow Grandma’s going on a plane to her house.”
“With Papa?” Avery asked.
“And Tico and Maddie at your house?”
Smiling and teary, “Yes, that’s right.”
Avery smiled, Briar nodded. They were satisfied trusting the warmth of Grandma’s voice, but my ears heard a different voice. I heard the longing behind the words, the fervent wishing that tomorrow wouldn’t come, that she wouldn’t find herself sitting on a plane somewhere over the northeast as her granddaughters woke to find her gone.
“She left? Gone?” They asked.
“Yes,” I answered, the sting in my eyes and lump in my throat made my stomach lurch. Understanding that the unyielding pain of parenting comes back as a grandparent, twofold, aching for child and grandchild. I looked at my girls and imagined myself at that age, the magic of Grandma and Grandpa, the confusion of time and distance. The miles between us are not something I can easily remedy, but standing in the empty room, a stack of folded quilts in the corner and a cluster of discarded toys beside the sofa, I saw the concrete promise of the visit.
Grandma came to visit, spending each moment from the girls first bed-headed squeals, to the end of the day grimy-from-playing-hard little hands scrambling for one last snack and a goodnight kiss, showering the girls with attention. It was magically mundane with Grandma handling naps and baths, playtime and bed time.
She came for Finley’s arrival and with her she delivered memories that will last a lifetime for our entire family. We miss you Grandma.