The night had turned to early morning, yet, she still laid motionless. She laid in an unfamiliar bed, her health had turned for the worst a few months previously. She hadn’t always been the one to spend the day, night, hours wasting away in a bed. She was the one who was always determined to keep going, to prove that things didn’t hurt her, that she didn’t need help.
But she lost her strength months and months ago, when she heard the news, the saddest news a woman could ever hear. That her granddaughter was sick.
Mary, was a woman in her later years, she had turned 99 years old in December. She didn’t celebrate her birthday like most of us would. She didn’t like it when people would acknowledge her age. She thought it was foolish and nonsensical. This last birthday was no different, it was even more useless. As the news she heard had become a painful reality and life didn’t seem much enjoyable anymore.
She was a women who didn’t believe in superstitions, her mother before her believed in them, yet, she thought they didn’t matter. They were just a waste of time and you make your life your own way. Throughout her entire life she would always be informed of various superstitions, each time not believing them and trying to go out of her way to disprove them. But after that phone call she suddenly believed in each and every superstition, she tried to recall each and every one of them. She didn’t want to hear what she just heard, but there was no changing that.
Her granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer. Mary couldn’t believe how this could happen. How could life be so cruel, her granddaughter was just in her 40s, yet Mary’s time should have come and gone. She cursed. She didn’t want to live, she wish she could trade her life for her granddaughters. But life didn’t work that way. She knew that. Yet, she believed if she thought about it, she thought if she even prayed about it that it’d happen.
But she knew that was just foolish. Yet she still cursed.
It was now useless, life seemed so useless now.
She laid in bed. A bed at a nursing home miles and miles away from her own house. She wouldn’t be returning to that house, the house that raised her two daughters. The house that saw her granddaughter grow up from a baby to a child to a teenager to a young woman to a mother. A house that was once full of family members from young to old, generations and generations of children. Her granddaughters two young boys would come and visit the house every summer. The entire family would fill the house with laughter and joy. It sat empty now, empty like she laid.
Things were about to change for her, she didn’t know that. She didn’t know much of anything anymore, she cared not for that. Her heart was broken. Broken by her loss.
Then she awoke. She sat up in the bed. Suddenly more awake than she’s been in months. The pains she felt the past months were gone. The pains she become accustom to in her elder years had suddenly vanished. Her hands didn’t hurt, her back pain was gone. She turned her neck with no pain. She seemed startled by the fact the pain was gone. A look of shocked overtook her face. She thought of everything all of a sudden, was it the medicine the doctor gave her hours ago? Was it finally working. She didn’t know what to do.
Then she heard a knock. But where was it coming from. It stopped. She looked around the room. Was it coming from the door? Or was it from one of the windows. She moved and swung her legs out of the bed. They didn’t hurt. It was also quite fast. She hadn’t moved this fast in years, heck, it must have been decades. But how many.
This time she knew it was coming from the window on the right of her bed. She got up with propose. She opened the curtains. The curtains that had no color, the room had no color to it. She didn’t notice the lack of color. She just noticed the knock, the lack of pain and the bright light that suddenly poured in the room as she opened the curtain.
But why was it so bright outside? It was a little after 3 am. It’s never, ever been this bright at 3 am. Never in her entire life has she seen it bright out at this hour. She thought it must have been car headlights or something of the sort. It had to be that she thought.
Then suddenly just as it was so bright it got a little darker, just so she could start to make out some thing outside the window. It was an outline of a body. It was a woman’s body. She moved closer to the window, nearly putting her entire face against the glass pane of the window. She was trying her hardest to see who the person was.
She heard a voice she hadn’t heard a in a few months. It sounded like her granddaughter. But she couldn’t make out what she was saying.
“Mimi” the voice became clearer now. Mimi, it was one of the names her granddaughter and grand children had come up with to call her. Instead of Grandma, Mimi had become her name. The entire family referred to her as Mimi, her grand children, her grand children’s children.
She was startled like never before. How could this voice be her granddaughters voice. Her granddaughter was dead. She must have misunderstood whatever she was hearing. There was no way that could have been her.
“Mimi,” the voice said again. “Come on, we need to get going.”
The voice was defiantly her granddaughters voice. She knew that. She knew it from the years they talked on the phone. They lived so far from each other. She had wished she could have been able to live closer to each other, but that was life. They talked on the phone for hours and hours. They were more than just a grandmother and a granddaughter, they were good friends who would talk about everything going on.
That ended months and months ago when her granddaughter died. How could she be here now?
The figure that was once outside in the bright light was now in the room, it was just an outline of a woman, the room was bright now, no colors just complete brightness. Mary turned from the window to see the outline of what sounded like her granddaughter.
“Mimi, take my hand and follow me” the voice sternly spoke. “We need you.”
Who needed her? Was someone in trouble? Why would anyone need her? She was old, she thought to herself. But why was this person sounding like her granddaughter.
Mary took the figures hand, as they headed out of the room. The door was wide open. They walked with a purpose. At first she thought she wouldn’t be able to keep up, she wasn’t as fast as she used to be. She was old, she walked slowly, her bones and nerves didn’t work like they used to. But they did at this moment. She walked fast, she didn’t feel the pain. She hadn’t walked this fast since she was in her 30s. The hall way was bright, she couldn’t make anything out. There used to be doors to other rooms, rooms of other people who were staying in this particular retirement home. But there weren’t any doors. It was just a bright hallway. They walked fearlessly towards the brightness. Even more brighter than the hallway it was brighter and brighter.
There were two doors and they swung open almost bursting open. The brightness seemed to flicker on and off, almost like a flame would but it wasn’t the same color, it was just white. Yet it seemed like it had a pulse. The pulse of brightness calmed slightly, as Mary started to make out what seemed to be a hot air balloon.
Why was there a hot air balloon? The town she lived in had a hot air balloon festival every year, that’s when the family would come and visit. The celebrations were geared around the festival. It was a festival that was started in the 70s, when her granddaughter was just a mere child. When her husband was still alive.
The hot air balloon sat full of hot air, its flame was burning hot and bright. Was that the cause for the brightness?
The figure stopped running as it came to the basket of the hot air balloon. Letting go of Mary’s hand for just a moment as it turned to look at Mary in the face.
“Mimi, I love you.” The figure became clear, it was definitely her granddaughter. “I’ve missed you so much.”
Mary went to speak but no words came out, yet her mouth moved. She tried to speak some more, but nothing. Her jaw moved as she raised her right hand to her mouth to feel her mouth moving yet no words coming out.
“Mimi, I know what you’re going to say. And yes, I am. But that’s not important now. We need to go.” The voice of her granddaughter spoke. Mary felt like crying, she thought she was, but like her voice her tears weren’t working.
The figure, which was now revealed as her granddaughter helped her get into the basket of the hot air balloon. And then followed suit. The two were together again, but this time unlike anytime before they were in a basket of a hot air balloon. They looked at each other as the hot air balloon lifted off.
Mary wanted to ask so many questions, but she couldn’t. She still couldn’t find a vocal cord to muster up one word. The hot air balloon lifted off. As the grandmother and the granddaughter were once again united.