I was on my way home Monday night, singing my little heart out to “Funny” by Tori Kelly. It was somewhere near the beginning of the end of the song when I started to believe I was Beyoncé in front of a sea of people. I felt so much ridiculousness radiating off of me that I thought to myself, “It’s a lucky thing nobody has to witness this dreadful karaoke moment.”
For a split second, I pictured my grandma up in heaven laughing at how naïve I was to believe she didn’t just witness my performance.
I giggled to myself and went right back into Beyoncé mode. I’m getting that I wonder what song will come on next kind of eagerness. Then it happens. You know, that moment when you hear the first millisecond of the opening beat and excitement takes over your body because THIS. IS. YOUR. JAM.
Instead, I froze and my heart dropped. The one and only song that reminds me of my grandma comes on less than thirty seconds after my initial thought of her.
I saw it on the display screen, “What if She’s an Angel” by Tommy Steiner – clear as day. Out of the 947 songs on my phone, that one found its way to me in the perfect moment. All I could do was laugh. I knew my grandma with me, so I began talking to her as if she was sitting in the passenger seat.
The smile on my face stretched from ear to ear.
Meanwhile, her song was still playing in the background as I shared all my thoughts with her. My angel had her dreamy, whimsical wings tightly wrapped around me and I could feel it with every ounce in me. For the first time in a while, I felt safe.
She always finds a way to send me a hidden message when it matters most.
I got to visit her over the summer a few months prior to her sickness. Ironically enough, she was filling out paperwork for her and my grandpa’s future funeral arrangements should anything have happened to them. It was surreal and uncomfortable to be present for such a process. I mean they were getting up there in the higher digits but not that old. I found comfort in the situation knowing they were doing well and chugging right along. I still had plenty of time with them in my life.
I had no idea I wouldn’t be able to go on any more walks with my grandma throughout the tiny town, listening to “nature’s music” and rambling away. I had no idea that soon listening to old voicemails would be the only way I could hear her voice. I had no idea that when I gave her that hug goodbye it would be the last time I saw her.
I’ve had details about her illnesses explained to me time and time again, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. It always went in one ear and out the other every time I tried to retain the information. Anytime I imagined how things would be without her it caused pure chaos in my head. The thought of my grandpa without grandma was mind boggling and nonetheless, heartbreaking. My grandma wasn’t going to bounce back from this one and that’s the only fact I could handle even trying to wrap my head around.
Waiting for somebody you love to pass away is emotionally and physically grueling. It could be days or it could be weeks, but you never know. You wake up wondering if today will be the day. You spend at least 70% of your time thinking about it. You can’t sleep at night because your brain is working overtime to process what’s happening. The bittersweet part of finally relaxing enough to fall asleep is being prepared to potentially wake up to bad news.
And that’s exactly what happened. I woke up to my mom crying on the edge of my bed at six in the morning. She looked at me with the saddest eyes and before the words came out of her mouth, I knew she was gone.
Inevitably, I lost my grandma when I was nineteen. She was the most genuine soul I knew. Although, you may never understand how remarkable this woman was, here’s a tiny glimpse of her amazingness.
My grandma had a co-worker named Michelle whom she found a friend in. She invited Michelle over to the house because they had plans to do her hair. My grandpa was watching the Phoenix Suns game when the two of them joined him with beers in hand.
The minute it was safe to react, my grandma darted his eyes to my grandma and hollered, “That’s a man!” in the least judgmental yet most blunt way possible. He was smiling in disbelief. She is completely taken aback by his statement. He began to dissect the way Michelle drank her beer and the way she sat.
Before long, my grandma couldn’t help but replay moments in her head and start to dance with the idea that my grandpa might’ve be on to something. The more she thought about it, Michelle did take unusually long time in the bathroom.
She connect the dots and decided she needed to ask Michelle for the truth, so she went up to her job and did just that.
Michelle told my grandma that she was a he. Her original name was Michael, but she goes by Michelle. She was in love with a woman that was a lesbian. My grandma reassured Michelle that she accepted her no matter what and they continued their friendship.
Things were fine until she went missing. My grandma grew concerned so she contacted another co-worker and they went to her apartment.
Michelle committed suicide over the break up with her lover. Her family buried her as a man because they didn’t agree with who she was. It wasn’t what she would have wanted so my grandma didn’t go to her funeral.
My grandma knew Michelle, not Michael.
When asked why she was so open minded and loving with Michelle, she simply responded with “what if she’s an angel?”
I used to listen to the song that came on in my car as a little kid, but I hadn’t heard it in years. It’s a pleasant song with a commendable message, but it had no major relevance to my life. That was until my aunt and I were reminiscing a few months ago and she shared this story.
As soon as we hung up the phone, I went straight to my music app to download “What if She’s an Angel” by Tommy Steiner. I drove around in circles through the neighborhood listening to this incredible song that suddenly made so much sense to me.
“What if she’s an angel sent here from heaven
and she’s making certain that you’re doing your best
to take the time the time to help one another?
Brother, are you gonna pass that test?”
In a nut shell, the lyrics encourage everybody to be kind. It won’t hurt us to do nice things for those around us, even strangers. Help someone when you see them in need because you never know their purpose. My grandma knew it wasn’t her place to judge. She was put on this earth to be a blessing to others. We could all learn a thing or two from my sweet angel.
I miss her dearly. I think of her hugs when she crosses my mind. They were the kind where she would squeeze me almost for too long of a time period but when I tried to end the hug, she squeezed even tighter. I’d do just about anything for another one.
Appreciate your loved ones. Make time in your schedule to call and go see them. Create endless amounts of memories and cherish them forever.
Be an angel in disguise.