One evening, back when the days were longer, the nights were young, and a perpetual rosy scent lingered in the air, back when my grandma was younger, back when my grandma was very much in this world amongst us, my grandma spoke to me over the phone. Her voice crackled over the telephone, her majestic voice, the voice of a wise angelic presence in my life all the way across prairies and lakes, past oceans and seas, across deserts and mountains.

Over the wireless realm of waves and nothingness, she sighed and said, “How are you, my flower?” and I replied, “I am well, grandma, tell me about yourself.”

Every conversation began like this. And every conversation ended with a prayer. But what she spoke of in the middle of the beginning and the end was always a simple, hopeful yet hopeless plea, a question if you may – but a question that did not need nor have an answer.

“You live far from me, my child. You live in a yawning hole from which few ever return. Will you ever return?”

And I would swallow the lump in my throat, a painful ball of fire and sadness going down my trachea and flaring my insides in a helpless cry for relief.

“Yes, grandma, soon. I will see you soon. Don’t worry too much.”

I never saw her soon. In fact, I never saw her thereafter. A few months later, her brain decided to bid her adieu. Her limbs turned frail and no longer gave her the company she direly needed. Her speech left her, so I was left with the hope that the prayers she sent my way still made their way across the oceans, the mountains, the deserts and the prairies from the depths of her heart – her heart was still beating, and so long as her heart was beating, my hopes remained.

And then one day, she left me, just like that. Of course, it could be said that I left her first. But I really did mean to keep my promise. I was going to visit her soon. I was going to sit with her, play with her hands, smile at her. We were going to have tea together. She was going to tell me stories.

My grandma once said, “You live in a yawning hole from which few ever return. Will you ever return?”

Grandma, will you ever return?