You came to me in my dream last night. It's funny how I used to think that it was freaky that people who passed on come to visit you in your dreams. But it turns out that it's not freaky at all - or scary for that matter. After almost 4 years of being bed-ridden, of living somewhere in between your dream world, and this one, the one we refer to as reality, you passed away with a smile on your face. You were 90 years old, and you were my grandmother. Your name was Nina, and you had so much passion, joie de vivre and fire in you that you never left anyone who ever met you indifferent. They would either love you or hate you - but indifferent, never! As a matter of fact, I specifically remember breaking a few cups and plates in rage as I argued with you about my choice of boyfriends, clothing or make-up. You would always win. After all, you had more experience. :)
You were the one who told me to never - ever - go out of the house without looking my best even if I only needed to go outside to take out the trash.
When I all of a sudden decided, at the age of 12, that I wanted to attend one of the most prestigious middle schools in town and when I was not accepted because we didn't have the right connections or money, you called the rivaling school and talked to its principle for a whole hour, telling her that your granddaughter was a genius :))) and that it would be their loss if they didn't accept me. Needless to say - I was accepted, probably because the principle didn't want you to call her every day and continue talking her ear off. :)
You taught me how to make thin Russian pancakes, and, funnily enough, it's the only tangible thing I can recreate that connects me to you.
You loved big hats, high heels, expensive perfume and purses.
We spent hundreds of evenings, cuddled up in our armchairs, watching Brazilian soap operas and Hercule Poirot, and sipping on instant coffee with non-dairy creamer - a novelty back then in Russia, straight from the USA :).
Every time I smell the fragrance of lilacs and pink peonies, I can just close my eyes and imagine that it's your birthday, May 9, all over again, and that our apartment is full of guests, buzzing with anticipation of celebrating the eternal spring.
You were an amazing singer, and you were even invited to join the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, but you were only 16 years old and you had only boys and pretty outfits on your mind back then, you said :). You didn't have time for college. :) Years later, you would spend evenings surrounded by your kids, while granddad was playing piano and you sang.
You were the one who would keep and collect all my early stories, my first attempts at writing, trying to be a Russian 9-year-old Agatha Christie of sorts.
You never liked my ex-fiance of 3 years and - oh my God - how much we argued with you about him!
You didn't even seem a little surprised when I announced that I'd married Chris, a guy who I'd only known for 3 months, and you supported me unequivocally when the whole world was wondering if I lost my mind. As a matter of fact, you supported me so much, you called my ex-fiance yourself and told him that I'd gotten married (before I had a chance to tell him). I didn't talk to you for 3 long months, but then eventually I gave in. Because it was impossible to be angry with you for too long. Because you were my ice-cream eating partner, my go-to person when demons in my mind got too loud in the dark of the night, back when I was little, and I just had to cuddle with you. Because I am you, and you are me.
So you came to me last night, and we chatted all night long. We had ice-cream, and you told me you liked your new apartment. :) We laughed, and I felt at peace. When I woke up this morning, I didn't feel sad for the first time since your passing, and I just knew that I had to write this. For myself, for you, for my mom and dad - for everyone who lost someone they had loved dearly. Because we should always remember - death, it doesn't exist, not in the way we are used to thinking about it anyway. I am sure of it. Let's live, let's love, let's create. After all, our life is nothing but a beautiful dream...