To Helen

by Jacqueline Parrish

I see her face in my mind and yet it is a smudge, a smear of an old picture that has been nestled in the attic of my mind. I have not let go of the memory I have of her but through time the memories even seem to fade. I grab them when they come to me like a brilliant idea that I will not and cannot let pass.

I remember the night I saw her lifeless body laying on the bed, the serenity that surrounded her in the final slumber. The quiet house, the quiet room, the quiet face. I wanted to touch her one last time, to feel the warmth of so many years. But the warmth was no longer there, it had escaped with the soul it took with it. I wanted to curl up next to her and hear her say, "everything will be alright." But most of all I wanted to know her. I was too young to understand her life and who she was and now she is only a memory of my childhood.

The snow came after her death. Fat flakes of endless white floated to the waiting ground. I remember standing outside on that December night and watching with youthful eyes the beauty that surrounded me. Her final wish was to see snow, and as I watched the delicate flakes descend, I thought about how she would want to breathe in this moment, to capture it in her mind before her long journey into eternity. But somehow I knew that she was watching, maybe even catching a few flakes on her tongue.

That night I had an amazing dream of her, a dream that will never be removed from my mind. She came to me that night and took my hand. We sat upon a big white bed in a white room. Everything was white. I had on the night gown I had gone to sleep in, an oversized white t-shirt with a giraffe on it. She didn't say anything to me as we sat together, instead a bright light flashed and I woke up. I look back on the dream and realize I took a picture with my grandmother in the after life, and I know she carries it around with her wherever she may be. She hasn't visited me since that night almost eleven years ago but I know she is there. I feel her presence through my writing and through the people I love.

Grandmother, the world was built for beautiful people like you. Through all of your life struggles you still saw beauty in the world. I admire your courage and your strength. Sometimes I think we are one, and that you live through me when hard times cross my path. When I see you in my mind, I see a woman sitting by the ocean enveloped in another world. When I see myself, I see you.

I gather my memories of you and place them neatly back inside the attic of my mind. It is time to rest and look forward to the day I see you again.

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