With a sigh, I drop into my favorite overstuffed chair and rest my cheek against the green tweed fabric. Leftover turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes, brown with gravy, litter white plates scattered across the counter. The spicy aroma of warm pumpkin pie floats into the family room.
My boys tear through the room, flashing silver foam swords, my husband on their trail. He scoops them up and plops them down on the couch next to my sister and my grandpa.
“Turn the game up, I can’t hear the score.” My mom yells from the kitchen.
The dishwasher clicks on and I tune out the soft hum and close my eyes. Full of warmth and family, the day seems perfect. Yet, something is missing—the picture incomplete.
Grandma’s absence fills the room.
The smooth scent of vanilla slides over me. A hand rests on my shoulder and I cover it with mine—trace the bumpy veins on loose, spongy skin. I open my eyes.
Grandma kneels beside my chair, dressed in her favorite outfit—blue sweater, matching pumps, and pearl clip-on earrings.
I bite my lip. She’s not supposed to be here.
A smile warms her face. “I just want you to know that I’m okay.”
“It’s not the same without you.” I squeeze her hand and lean my head against hers. “I miss your hugs.”
Her fingers comb through my hair. “I miss yours, too.”
“Mom made your pistachio salad. It was all wrong. She put in the nuts.”
With a laugh, she kisses my cheek.
A harsh buzz shatters the moment. Startled, I sit up in bed. My husband snores softly by my side. I hit snooze on the alarm and fall back against the pillow.
It had only been a dream.
And now it’s too late. Too late to tell her how much she meant to me. Too late to hug her and realize what I had.
My husband rolls over and rubs his eyes. When I take the time to think about it, there are so many things I’m grateful for—like when he takes out the garbage and scoops out the cat litter. He’s made dinner on my tired days more times than I can count.
I roll over and scoot down so I can face him. “I love you.”
With a sigh, he pulls me close. “I love you, too.”
My hand rests against the rough stubble of his cheek and I breathe him in. I want to live in this moment, be grateful for what I have right now.
“Thanks for putting away the laundry yesterday and coming home early to drive Maddy to church.”
Surprise lights his eyes and, after he stares at me for a moment, a huge smile lights his face. “You’re welcome.”
As he holds me, I think of my kids still asleep, under their covers. How many hugs have I pushed off, busy with the drive to finish this or that? How many times have I punished their bad choices and neglected to praise their good choices?
My devotional reading from early in the week drifts through my mind.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 NIV).
Thankfulness. Something I don’t spend much time pondering. It will take a conscious decision, some deliberate prioritizing, and major prayer to make a permanent attitude change. But it will be worth it. My grandma may be gone, but my husband and my kids are here.
After a soft kiss on my husband’s cheek, I climb out of bed to wake my kids up with a hug. I can’t wait to tell them how special I think they are!