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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Madloch

Nicole Kavner Miller

My maternal grandmother’s name was Thelma. My parents split when I was only four and my mother and I came to live with my grandparents in Queens, New York. My grandmother was the center of the family and everyone gravitated towards her. Thanks to her, when things could have gone very wrong after my parents’ split, I found myself at the family hub, surrounded by people who gave me unconditional love.

Grandma Thelma worked as an administrator at the Home for Adults, which was located just minutes from my school. I often faked being sick at school, so she would pick me up and I could hang out in her room watching TV in her small office. It was much better than going to PE class, which I always hated. I am sure that grandma could see through my lies and fake illnesses, but she never said anything. She was mostly a serious person, but had a playful, silly streak to her character. She taught me to play Scrabble and we spent many hours playing and just having fun.

My mother and I moved to California when I was 11-years old and it was a very difficult transition to me. I came back to the East Coast after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. However, my most important reason to come back was that grandma Thelma was diagnosed with lung cancer. After the diagnosis she lived only for five months and I spent this entire time with her.

When she was sick we talked a lot about dying and afterlife. Grandma Thelma was always an adamant atheist and facing her own mortality did not alter her views on the afterlife or lack thereof. Once I asked her if it was okay if I believed in one for her and she agreed to this.

Shortly after she passed, three nights in a row, I had the same dream. In this dream, I was sitting in her kitchen and she was telling me to “look after my grandfather.” He was completely lost without her and he needed someone to look after him.

Next time we established a connection was three years after she passed. I was in my bed, doing meditation and thinking of her. Suddenly, without much thinking about what I was doing I said aloud: “I miss you grandma and I love you.” A second later I clearly heard her voice in my ear. It said: “I love you too.” I was sure it was her, so I asked: “Are you ok, grandma? Are you happy?” This time I did not receive a verbal answer, but sudden warmth flooded my body. This was probably one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I know for sure, grandma Thelma is at good place.

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