I was very close with my maternal grandmother. My twin brother suffers from asthma and was in and out of the hospital when we were little. He absorbed much of my mother’s attention and, as a result, my grandmother would drive west to Plantation, FL from her condo on Pompano Beach to help take care of my older siblings and me.
Grandma and I had a very special bond that was broken in May of 1992 when she succumbed to cancer. Her timing really was awful; it was right before Mother’s Day, my twin and I were just about to graduate from high school, my sister was about to be married, and my older brother was about to open his first wine store. It was hard to believe that she would not be there to witness these events and the parties that went along with them; she always loved a good party.
Is that entirely true though? Would she really not be there?
I have a vivid memory of my grandmother’s wake, not of the scores of people who came to pay their respects, but of the scent of the flowers that surrounded her casket at the Gallagher funeral home. I will never forget that smell.
I remember leaving the funeral home after all of my siblings; I had borrowed my sister’s car for the night as she drove with her fiancée. I wanted to be the last person to leave. As I left the funeral home, my sense of olfaction was cleansed by the warm spring air as I walked through the parking lot and got into the car. I turned the car on and was greeted by the Police’s Every Breath You Take:
Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
I’ll be watching you
I inexplicably smelled the flowers from the funeral home as I heard Sting’s lyrics. I know this song is supposed to be from the point of view of a stalker, but for that brief moment in time it was being sung to me from the point of view of my grandmother. I truly believe it was her final gift to me; a way of telling me that even though she is gone, I will be okay. She will still continue to watch over me.
What a comforting thought, that those who have left this world to join the next will still continue to watch over us as guardian angels of sorts. Every now and then, when I am facing a difficult decision or a trial in my life, I sometimes smell those flowers as if my grandmother were right next to me trying to help me find a solution to whatever is troubling me.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is still with us and by turning towards Him and putting our faith and trust in Him, our burdens will ease. I truly believe that the experience I had the night of my grandmother’s wake is a gift. It is a reminder of the reality that through Christ, all things are possible and all will be taken care of.