My kids are lucky. I know that. My parents have taken GREAT delight in spoiling their grandchildren (i.e. allow them stuff that mom and dad, you know, don't, because we've obviously forgotten the definition of fun!)
My in-laws? Well, they still seem to enjoy our company. Especially, when my kids are around. Yes, they probably like them way better than me, too.
It's okay. I'm down with it. Can't say as I blame them, either.
"Can we light a candle for Keresztmama?"
So, when my youngest asked to place the candle jar at the end of our driveway, so that my aunt could see it, even from way up in heaven, I truly believed that she would.
My aunt would send them handmade birthday cards, which, with her bum right hand and one good eye, must have taken hours to draw, in colored pencil, no less.
"Look, there she is!"
Still, I couldn't help but feel a little startled (okay, A LOT!) when my 11 year-old son pointed out a new star in the night sky, thinking that my aunt was, you know, standing right behind us, seeing as I was raised by a bunch of Hungarians and, why yes, we ARE a superstitious lot!
"I think you're right!"
But, I'm not quite sure if my aunt was very happy with me.
"You think she misses us, yet?"
You see, I promised that I would take the kids down to see her (they live about 90 minutes away) but, that was months ago and, even though we talked on the phone, just last week, well, you know.
"Yes, just as much as we miss her!"
Then, I thought back to our last conversation. She heard about my upcoming procedure (probably, from my mother) and called to set my mind at ease.
"You've always been a fast healer."
The woman, who slowly suffered and lost parts of her body to the bitch that is diabetes, for the last 35 years, was giving me comfort.
"You're on my mind, always."
Still, why does someone have to get sick, or die, for us to take inventory of our own lives?
You know, like in deciding what we should have, or could have done, more or less.
"How do you know?"
I watched my 9 year-old daughter's breath chill and then eerily turn into a plume of phantom smoke.
"How do I know, what?"
Because, I'm observant like that.
"If she misses us, or not."
I looked deep into her brown-black eyes and thought, my gosh, how could she not?
"She had a picture of you guys, right by her bed."
It was actually taped on the small fridge where my cousin kept my aunt's water, orange juice, tubes of cake icing (to ward off the nasty effects of insulin shock) and, of course, her insulin.
"She adored your kids, you know that, right?"
My uncle pointed at a snapshot taken when my parents treated us to lunch on Valentine's Day and, well, now I'm really glad that the waitress insisted that, you know, I get in the shot, too.
"I'm going to draw her a picture."
I followed my youngest back into the house, watched her go through the craft drawer and, for the eleventy-hundredth time, my heart squished, a little (okay, A LOT!)
"This will help her remember how much WE loved her!"
I mean, really, putting that MUCH faith, in a few strokes of crayon and magic marker, who wouldn't love that, right?
[one beat, two beats]
"Me too, move over!"
You know, just in case.