Andrew and his grandmother are best friends and spend their time together telling stories of conquering imaginary dragons (fear) by being brave (looking fear in the eye). As Gram ages and her life ends, Andrew is left to battle the dragons alone until he discovers that Gram has been with him all along.
Embrace the moments…that’s my focus lately.
My children’s book, The Secret to Beating the Dragon, was delivered to me the other day. My initial reaction was excitement…and then an immediate sense of sadness because my kids weren’t home to view it with me for the first time. I wished they were…
But I am a firm believer in Divine timing. I do believe life is perfectly timed out for us, even when it makes no sense to us at all. So I questioned, “why must I be alone to see the book for the first time? They love it too!”
And it hit me….the night I wrote the story I was home alone for one of the first overnights my kids were with their dad after our separation. I missed them and it gave me the opportunity to sit with myself and feel. Let’s be honest, that is not something we typically enjoy. But I wanted to embrace it and felt inspired to write.
I sat in my kitchen, notebook in hand and let the words fill the page. Crying as I wrote, I felt the emotions of love and loss and strength and courage. And then I text the story to my cousin, Andrew, whose relationship with my grandmother inspired the story to begin with. Along with him, I cried some more.
The story is heartwarming and I knew I wanted to share it.
The moment has come full circle.
But the day I held the book…that moment was for me. And Andrew. I text him the picture of it immediately. He is the primary reason I wanted this story to come to life. His love for his grandmother...and hers for him. Beautiful and inspiring and the kind of love that makes you remember why you love---because it feels amazing. Also, the kind that reminds you why it’s hard to let go---because it feels amazing.
The night I wrote the story, I felt their love so strongly. I felt how he missed her and how he did everything to make their time together the best it could be. And I felt how much she appreciated it…how much she appreciated him.
She was living with Alzheimer’s disease in her home in the middle of the woods of Maine when Andrew moved in. My grandfather had died a few years prior and she had been living her life to the fullest since, but with the onset of Alzheimer’s, no one wanted her to be alone. My brother lived there for a period as well. Both he and Andrew cared for her as long as they could as they were going through their own life transitions.
Her vibrant spirit and strong independence was shifting. She was going downhill and life was hard for her. I would call her on my way home from work and tell her the same jokes each day because I knew she didn’t remember them from the day before. And she would laugh- every time. Same jokes, same response.
I just wanted to make her smile.
She would complain that she knew her memory was going and it was so frustrating. I hurt for her. It hurt me that she hurt. So I told her that she was living the dream…she was living in the moment, because that’s all she had.
But for me, it was painful. I just wanted to take her pain away. I loved her so very much. The idea of her suffering was awful.
I was grateful Andrew was there. His humor, his personality, his dedication to our grandmother was unmatched. He would come home from his job on the ambulance and tell Gram of his adventures in the field. Having volunteered on an ambulance herself after retirement, she was eager to hear his stories.
She craved adventure as much as he did and they would share a glass of whiskey as he told his tales of the day. And Andrew, the charismatic and funny man that he is, is an excellent story teller. No doubt she took it all in, happy to live through the bloodline she created. Appreciative to experience life through the eyes of love and admiration.
I tear up nearly every time I read the story. I’m sure at some point I won’t. But for now, I still feel the intensity of the love and the loss and the exquisite beauty that comes with it.
While the book was coming to life this past fall and early winter, my beloved aunt, Andrew’s mom, was dying. I’ve accepted that I cannot find words that best describe my aunt. Her pure spirit and genuine kindness frame the most giving soul I’ve ever met. She is simply- love- in its truest form.
The kind of love that makes you remember why we love---because it feels amazing. Also, the kind that reminds you why it’s hard to let go---because it feels amazing.
I can’t capture the magnitude of her loss- it runs too deep- but I can say that the timeliness of having our family together to help me critique the character images in the book was impeccable. Sharing our views as we bonded over our pain while I saw my beautiful aunt for the last time----Serendipitous.
Again, Divine timing at its finest.
The journey of bringing a vision to life is quite an adventure. And I love me some adventure. Even the sucky parts.
I’m thrilled to share the legacy of my family. One of immense respect, loyalty, love of living and an unwavering commitment to make our dreams come true.
Thanks for sharing Gram and Andrew. Love you from the deepest parts of my heart.