I went to the arena tonight to watch my 5-year-old granddaughters go through their paces at figure skating. Instead of sitting in the warm second-story room at the far end of the ice from where the girls were, I chose to sit in the cold area nearest to their practice spot. It took them a minute to notice my presence there, but when they did, I got the big smiles and a little wave from each. They seemed, from that minute, to stay on their feet better. Their twirls were a little hardier and their strides longer and more confident on the ice. Maybe that is just me giving myself credit for being a caring Grandmother, hoping that my presence would make a difference in the lives of my kids and their kids.
Suddenly, I had the fear of what would happen if I was not there. Lost would be the smiles and the opportunity for showing off for grandma. I felt alone in this moment, knowing that I really will not be here forever – that these lovely little babies will witness my demise, my death, my leaving. I want to tell them how to think, feel, and reason through my loss so it does not hurt them so much as my husband’s death did for me. I want to spare them that. I want to give them permission to smile, show off and enjoy themselves knowing that my heart will be carried by their hearts forever and when they smile or when they are happy – I will be too. Even if I am not there in person to show them.
I could not help but consider tonight the fact that my husband was not there to glory in the welcome we always get from the kids – the happiness in their gestures, their faces that tell you quite simply you are loved. He would have enjoyed this experience so much. He would have been on the ice with them. He would have been the “action-hero grandpa”.
It was as though I was transposed into the future this evening for a moment. As painful as it is to realize that life does not go on forever, it also allows us the chance to work through some of the difficult transitions that time itself will undoubtedly deliver…so…
I give you permission, my kids, to live, to laugh, to feel joy and share joy. I give you permission to love, to achieve, to be happy for as long as you want. I give you permission to think of me smiling and proud of you – because I am.