I’m astonished that so much time has elapsed since I put it there.
The slick plastic is dusty beneath my fingers. I don’t even know if I’ve moved this precious package since it was carefully stashed on that shelf for safe keeping.
I carry it to the table in my office. I have sealed this little plastic wrapped package with clear packing tape. I can’t recall now why I did that, but maybe I figured tightly sealing the bag would keep the memories safe and deter against unknown disasters.
The tape makes a ripping noise as I pull it away, and then I reach carefully inside and pull out a stack of six hardbound books.
The covers are shiny and perfect. Their glossy white covers are happy with bright blue, pink, yellow, purple and orange.
I open each book carefully, looking for the one I need today.
Ah. Here is the right one.
I slide the other five books back into the bag for later.
One of my tears splash onto the cover and I quickly wipe it away. I am as careful with this book as a newborn baby…or a piece of fragile, perfect crystal. It is a treasure and cannot be replaced.
I go to the special box in my office closet and dig through some photos I have stored there waiting for this moment. Each one is slippery under my hand…each one is a memory that pierces my soul.
I put the photo inside the book and then wrap the book carefully in paper suitable for a graduation day. The wrapping is easy. The note to accompany the gift-wrapped book is hard.
How do I write this? How do I tell this young man that before his Grandmother died a horrible death of lung cancer, I sat with her as she carefully and shakily wrote inside these six books…a book for each grandchild…a book for six graduation days she would not see.
Do I tell him how she cried, knowing she would miss this big milestone in his life…and all the milestones that would come after she was gone?
It seems like just a short time ago that I visited my dear friend for this reason…to capture moments for grandchildren that would grieve forever the loss of their Grandmother…their friend, confidant and cheerleader.
How can it possibly be almost four years since she’s been gone?
When I hold this book, I remember her determined face as she worked so hard to inscribe her feelings for each child. I remember sitting with the Grandson this book is going to be mailed to as I recorded him singing “Amazing Grace” for a funeral that was happening way to soon for a delightful woman dying way to young. I remember my friend’s soft voice telling me, “I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to leave my Grandchildren.”
It is hard to capture all this in a note to accompany this priceless gift.
So I think I won’t even try.
I will box this book up carefully, and send it certified mail to a young man whose graduation announcement shows both his Senior picture and a picture of him with his beloved Grandmother.
And I hope when he opens it, he will feel her love wrap around him. I hope when he reads the words she wrote in her weak and shaky hand-writing he will know without a doubt how very much his Grandmother loved him. And I hope it gives him some small comfort to know that as they call his name at the Graduation ceremony, his Grandmother is cheering really loudly in Heaven.