The summer between my senior year of high school and my first year of college, we learned that Grandma (my mom’s mom) had pancreatic cancer. She probably had a few months to live.
A couple months later, I left for college, 1500 miles away.
Late September of that year arrived and I flew home for my Aunt’s wedding. It was a quick trip, flying in and out the same weekend, but we were all very aware of the clock ticking, and I didn’t want to miss the time with the whole family gathered.
The weekend was wonderful, full of laughter and celebrating. The cancer had not yet done so much damage to Grandma’s body that it was noticeable. She was more tired and slimmer, but her mind was still alert and she appeared healthy. Still, I knew that I might not see her again after this weekend, and that if I did, the effects of the disease would surely be rampant.
When it was time for my plane to fly back out, Grandma was going to meet me at the airport to say good-bye. Something happened, I’m not sure what, but she was running late. My parents and I waited at the gate until the last possible moment before I finally had to board.
No good-bye. I ached.
I sat in my seat wanting to cry, but just not having it in me. Throughout high school, there were too many good-byes that I never got to say. Too many times I just didn’t have it in me to cry. And now, once again…
I had been determined to give her one last hug…my best laid plans had failed…
As everyone was settling into their seats and I was trying desperately not to catch the eye of anyone around me so as not to be pulled into a conversation that I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to have, I heard my name. I looked up and there, at the front of the plane, was Grandma with the flight attendant.
She hugged me so tight. All she said was ‘I love you’, but I knew. She was sending me every ounce of her love in that one moment. Willing me to receive every hope, remember every memory, understand her love. I knew because I was sending her the same.
It was a fierce hug. And then we said good-bye.
She shouldn’t have been allowed on the plane. They had already closed the gate. She didn’t have a ticket.
God gave me this good-bye. And yes, I believe in miracles.