I started my 21.5.800 time this morning with yoga — and let the savasana try to quiet me and guide me to wherever it wanted to take me today. My thoughts throughout my yoga practice were of loss and grief and closure. I started thinking the words in my head that I wanted to put down here… words that were about how we shouldn’t be sorry when our loved ones die. Words about how it’s nice to hear a friend say, “I’m sorry for your loss” after three and a half years because the loss is always there. Words about healing and moving on and happiness. But, when you quiet your mind through meditation or prayer or savasana, you can never be quite sure of where it will take you…
I’ve talked often here about the time I spent with my grandparents in southeast Missouri. The summers of gardening and hiking and exploring and hanging out with relatives that were… well, much older than I. Even as a young adult, I made the choice to visit my grandparents often. There house always comforted me (except the creepy basement at night — maybe more on that later.)
When I left home after high school, I settled on a college in Memphis — the thrill of being in a big city was incredibly enticing to me. I soon discovered that the drive to my grandparents house from Memphis was two hours shorter than the drive home — I choose the shorter drive and the doting grandparents quite often when I needed a weekend away from bars and fraternity parties and college life. The weekends I spent with them as a college student very much resembled the endless summers I spent there as a child — with the ever-present reminder that my grandparents were older. My grandfather’s health had suffered greatly as a result of being a smoker — he no longer could work in the garden or the yard and trips to the grocery store were limited. My grandmothers health suffered too from being around a smoker her entire adult life. But still, those weekend visits were memorable.
I would pile all my dirty clothes in a laundry basket and head out of my dorm with a full tank of gas and nothing else. I usually always surprised my grandparents with my visits — I knew if I told them I was coming, they would spend three hours pacing and worrying until I arrived. And there was always something so magical about walking through the door and seeing the look on their faces. I helped cook and I rested and I quieted my mind and my spirit. And when I left, a mere 48 hours later, I was better and focused and rejuvenated.
The night before I returned to school, my grandmother and I would always make a cake. Usually my favorite, Red Velvet. As you can imagine, my grandmother never used a box to cook in her life — everything, from scratch. (I made her write that recipe down — I have it still.) When I would leave their house, my grandmother would wrap that cake up tightly and place it in the floorboard of my front seat. My grandfather would tape a large piece of paper to my back driver side window that read, “In case of emergency please call…, this is my granddaughter”. And finally, after I loaded all my, now cleaned and pressed, clothes into the backseat, my grandmother would slyly slip a $20 bill into my hand — and I would leave, until the next surprise visit.
Savasana can take you to some very interesting places. It can quiet your mind just enough to smell the fresh laundry hanging outside in your grandparents back yard, or it can fool your mind into thinking you taste the fluffy pink frosting that topped the Red Velvet cake, or it can make you think you’re smelling your grandmother’s perfume mixed with the faint smell of a pipe.
What we have in life is our memories. What we have in life is the lasting thought of a perfect cake or a handwritten note taped to the window. What we have in life is each other and promise and hope and the possibility that new memories are always forming. What I have, is the recipe for the perfect Red Velvet cake, a cake that never lasted more than 30 minutes once I reached my dorm and my awaiting friends. I don’t eat Red Velvet cake now — it’s just not the same. But I remember the taste… and those letters taped to my window.