Today I had to write a letter to a friend whose twenty year old daughter has cancer. The entire time Iím thinking what a difficult letter it is to write; how this is such a complicated task for me. I mean how selfish and self-centered am I? This poor woman has a daughter who might die and I am over-thinking how well (or not) written this letter is going to be.
After the letter is written I look desperately for a stamp. All out! I run to the post office and wait in line with the rest of the miserable slobs who donít have a stamp or have to send out a package. I keep thinking I wish I had this womanís email and then I wouldnít have to be here in this gray, sad place. My eyes wonder over to the most wanted posters. The men in those pictures always look deranged. If I met one I wouldnít even know it. Iím not that observant really. I have this inability to notice anything other than my own pesky thoughts.
Looking back at these thoughts I feel myself growing dim. I never want my friend with the daughter who has cancer to know how dim Iíve become in her absence. She moved away four years ago. A lot can happen in that time. Iíve aged so much this past year. I see a glimpse of myself in the reflection bouncing off the glass door. Jeez, I look like the Grim Reaper!
I am half the woman I once was. My friend may remember my colorful side. I was always the one with the witty jokes and sly smile. Maybe that is why she is reaching to me now. To pull her out of this darkness. I wish I had a way to get back to that other me. I think tomorrow Iíll visit the cemetery and try to remember what it is about life that I love so much. Iíll bring a roast beef sandwich with mayo and make it an afternoon picnic with the less fortunate (the dead) or are they really?
Oh, I think the trip to the cemetery went very well. While sitting at my favorite bench, I was a witness to something extraordinary. It rained last night and the ground was wet. The day can be described as mostly damp, dark and dreary. I guess this is my logical way of explaining what happened next. I felt a breeze blowing from behind me, up from the ground through my neck and shoulders past my left cheek and straight ahead. I looked to the ground confused and saw warm thick smoke rising out of a tomb. The name on the grave was that of my grandmotherís. Couldnít be! My grandmother is buried hundreds and hundreds of miles away from here, across the ocean, in a different country altogether.
I have had dreams of the dead before. I have seen them walk around while awake too, and ďNo, I am not now or have I ever been crazy.Ē If that is what you were thinking! In my foggy condition I could feel the presence of something familiar; something vastly peaceful and deep. She still guides me after all these years. ďGrandma, I ask, why canít you just give me the lotto numbers or tell me what the after life is like?Ē These visits are mostly for her, I know. I think she still misses me. But being the inquisitive child, I still need answers.
Then everything falls into place, everything that was scrambled like a dozen or so eggs becomes smooth as butter on warm toast. (The thought of that makes me hungry for toast). I feel comforted by her. It really is that simple. I look in my compact mirror and see her face. I never noticed before how each wrinkle, each silver lock of hair makes me look more and more like her. I like aging with my grandmotherís face. Itís not so bad to look into her kind eyes and remember all those long ago hugs.
I am home now. Life is good for the most part even if aging isnít. There are comforts to growing old. There is the old standard thought that you are wiser. Am I? There is patience, due to the fact that days become hours with the passing of time, you no longer have to wait as long. I feel each hour bringing us to the end and maybe the beginning of some other challenging chapter. There are things to do still. There is always something to do. I change the sheets on the bed, load the dishwasher, and walk to my favorite chair to read a book. Life is not so empty when you have books and memories to fill the remaining days.
© 2007 Isis Weiss