“Nine… Ten! Grandma, grandma! I’m coming to find you!” Emelie shouts out to Ava into the quiet air. Her loud voice brewing from the depths of her tiny lungs, echoes into the home. Her girlish giggling brings warmth to the heart of her grandmother, Ava, who is hiding in a closet waiting for the moment that Emelie opens the door and thus, reverses the roles on their game of hide and seek.
Ava drifts back into her memory as she listens to Emelie’s bare feet quickly thud against the solid oak floors. She drifts back to when she was just a two year old, thinking of her large gleaming eyes, and the patience it took to mold her into the growing nine year old she has now become today. It was those very noises that Ava appreciated the most about being a grandmother. First, it was Emelie crawling about on the floor, throwing toys from here to there. And now, it’s grown to Emelie running at lightening speed through the halls wearing a smile and the persona of whoever she is playing.
She could be a doctor, running to the emergency room for surgery; she could be a safari guide, introducing her polar bears to the giraffes they have never met; she could be a princess hosting a tea party, while running to get her bears to their seats on time; or, she could just be Emelie, laughing, smiling, and enjoying the world she is creating around her with her imagination.
To Ava’s surprise, Emelie still hadn’t found her from the closet which she sat in. But Emelie was none the less making all the noise she could in her process of uncovering her grandmother. Ava noticed she was surrounded by Emelie’s baby clothing, along with her late husbands clothing. It had been months since she had come to shuffle through the different textures that surrounded her. Her husbands leather shoes, size nine and a half, were right next to Emelie’s pink baby shoes, which were the very ones she wore while leaving the hospital. ‘Ah, the circle of life…your grandfather would have loved to see your smile.’ Ava thought.
Her late husband, Kenneth, perished in a work related accident. Kenneth began working late nights to help support Emelie’s arrival.
Ava remembers the phone call. She was sitting in his recliner, staring out into the darkness through the large picture window he had recently installed, when the phone rang. She quietly sighs, saying aloud, ‘The phone never rang, not that late into the evening.’ Afraid to answer the call, she grasped every bit of strength within her to answer the phone… which revealed devastating news.
Her husband, along with three other men, had gone to their final resting place.
Ava never forgave herself for sending him off without a kiss goodbye that morning.
The goodbye kiss was a routine they adapted while they were young, love continuously pulling them in to each others arms. She remembers the early mornings at five a.m. when he would rise for work, the fire she felt for him would wake her from a deep sleep, he would pull her close to him as he layered on his clothing to brace the chilling winds for another day. And it was in those moments that she deeply understood the love they had for each other. Two souls, bracing for what could have always been their last moments together, going in to fill each others arms and kiss one another as if they would never get the opportunity to do so again…
But he always came home.
A silent tear runs from her eye to rest in the collarbone of her neck.
How she missed him dearly.
“Grandma! Grandma! Bear is going to find you with his nose!” Emelie cheerfully yells out from down the hall. Ava smiles. She smiles hearing Emelie’s enthusiasm. She smiles knowing that it was Emelie who was able to mend her broken heart. She smiles, knowing that the sight of her alone is something so profound to feel, because it was Emelie who brought her back to life. ‘Kenneth would have loved you so,’ Ava thought, ‘But alas, he is your guardian angel, and I am thankful that he did so much while he was here with us.’
The white cedar door swings open, “Boo! I found you, grandma! I found you and bear used his nose! I told you he was very special!” yelps Emelie out of pure excitement.
Ava smiles while pulling her in for a hug. Her curly and frizzy hair, missing the headband she had placed on her head; her socks, one gone and one dangling, gripping on to her toes for the ride; her grey sweater, now shifted out of position; and her rosy red cheeks, warm from all of the running she did to find her.
Ava embraced the warmth of the clothing while squeezing Emelie tightly, she replied, “I love you Emelie, and so does your grandfather, Kenneth.”
“I love you too grandma, and I know grandpa loves me, he is my most favorite angel of them all.”