I woke up from a dream in which I got to spend time with my paternal grandparents. Oh, how good it was to see them again–to hear my grandfather’s laugh and see his smile. My grandmother told me things she never told me when alive, about herself as a young woman. The grandfather in my dream died in 2004, and it had been so long since I’ve seen him in my sleep. I can’t remember the last time my other grandfather, who died in 1981, visited my dreams. In just a few years, I will be as old as he was the last time I saw him alive.
People who tell us that our dead will always be with us are wrong, I thought, as I opened my eyes in a house none of my grandparents got to see.
My grandparents are receding from me; they don’t occupy the space in my thoughts and feelings they did even just a year or two ago. Perhaps that’s because I’m no longer the woman I was when we last saw each other in this world, and because the world we lived in together no longer exists.
Later that morning, my daughter baked a cake with her husband, who lives on another continent, in a time zone 9 hours apart from ours. He made one there, and she made one here. They worked through a recipe together on a video call. (She lives neither here nor there, but some place in transit between two worlds that are now, I suppose, both home and not-home simultaneously.)
I sat nearby, working a crossword puzzle, while Cane relaxed on the living room sofa, reading whatever it is he reads on his phone. Our house is so small that we were all together. I answered questions about where the sugar was and if the butter and sugar mixture was “light and fluffy.” Cane sipped coffee. Later, I washed up while she dried, and in the bathroom we could hear the buzz of Cane’s clippers as he cut his hair before leaving for the gym.
I’m writing about this so I will not forget that morning, with its remarkable ordinariness, the grass so green through the window I sat in front of while my daughter measured flour and creamed butter.
While the water ran over my hands, I thought about how there will come a time when she is no longer here, when she will be back in her new country, and perhaps it will be the two of us who are baking together through a screen. As I handed her the beater to dry, I thought of all the ordinary kitchen times I shared with my grandmothers, almost none of which I remember now with any specificity.
I know that even if she weren’t going to make her life in her husband’s country, death or time would part us in other ways. Living is a series of so many little deaths, as one version of us gives way to another. I didn’t know this when I was a young woman in other kitchens with my grandmothers, my mother. I didn’t know to cement the moments in memory. I do now, though.
I took the recycling outside, and I was struck by the flowers blooming in the backyard, which I could see through a gate left open by one of us. They are so briefly beautiful, like the green of spring grass. The gate felt like an invitation.
Why write? There are so many reasons, but this is always what it comes down to for me: To keep alive the things I love: slow Sunday mornings in late spring, my daughter as a lovely young woman, Cane and I in the early twilight of our lives.
After this week’s Supreme Court ruling, I thought that perhaps this post I’d written was irrelevant. I decided it’s not. Feel free to see it as an extended metaphor, to make what connections you will.