November 23rd was my birthday. 37 years ago, on a cold Virginia Thanksgiving day, my mother gave me birth. Three states away in northern New Jersey, my grandmother lay dying of cancer. No one could have known at the time that my grandmother would never get to meet her first grandchild. She would never hold me in her arms, count my fingers and toes, or share the miracle of her daughter’s first child. Although my grandmother had been ill for quite some time, she passed away on December 8th, only two weeks later. My mother, 22 years old, just out of the hospital and saddled with a newborn, couldn’t make the long trip in time.
My grandmother never saw me with her dying eyes, but with spiritual eyes she was granted the chance to look upon the child that would bear her likeness and her talents. I appeared to her, the apparition of a child, as she lay in her deathbed.
She told my mother that she dreamed of a me, around 10 years old, with shoulder-length straight brown hair and brown eyes, pretty and athletic. Although my grandmother couldn’t even have known even what color eyes I would have, she described my ten-year old self perfectly.
At the time it was considered a dream, nothing else. But now I know that it was a deathbed vision, a gift from spirit. Before I connected my soul to the child about to be born from my mother’s womb, I was allowed to visit my grandmother and bring along a message of peace and serenity to a soul about to leave this mortal coil after a prolonged and difficult illness.
I share an uncanny resemblance to my grandmother and have inherited her talent for music. My grandmother was a fantastic pianist; playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at 17 years old. From a young age, it was obvious that I also had a natural talent for music. I developed that talent through long years of practice and eventually enrolled in college as a music major. Although I changed my career path, I feel that my grandmother’s talent and love for music lives on in me.
My visitation to her before her death feels like the passing of a torch. She gave me her looks, her temperament, her musical talent and a shared love for my mother. For although my mother grieved terribly for the loss of her mother, it was me – the infant that loved her unconditionally – that finally helped lift the grief.
In this time between my birthday and the anniversary of her death, I wanted to recognize the love exchanged from two souls passing in the night. My mother may wonder why she never had to chance to say goodbye, or to present me to her mother before she passed. But I know that my grandmother surely saw me waiting in the wings as she took her final bows; and knowing that my mother would be loved and cherished by a daughter meant she could depart with grace. One day, I know that when my spirit rises to join my beloved family and friends in the afterlife, a familiar face will be standing there ready to greet me and welcome me home, as I did for her so long ago.