Morning Cossee

31 Mar


I was awake all night. Thought and word, scene and image all ticking movements, swept my mind like second hands in a room of clocks. Not knowing which had the precise time, I slept little till dawn. On opening my eyes, though, there was a directive: I must go see my grandfather this Easter morning. I do not need a sanctuary other than this, a space where I can be within complete love. I have never visited his grave until today. To be truthful, before this morning I couldn’t actually find it, having attempted twice before with little luck. No one in my family could tell me where he lay exactly. They do not visit graves.

When he died, I had just turned eight years old and no one prepared me. Even though he was dying in the last stages from cancer, they didn’t feel the need to back then. I was too young to understand. He was just gone, no grieving from anyone. In the ensuing year, my mother married for the first time in my memory and I changed schools. But no one was looking out for me. I had no tools to cope with any of the massive change. All I knew was the high level of warmth and affection from a grandfather was now completely gone. Grandaddy had adored me. He was a reserved man, though, not especially verbal but physically affectionate and a constant companion. When he died that abruptly ended. And no one else attempted to fill the space.

So this morning in the cold spring rain, I decided to go have coffee with Grandaddy. He is the one who gave me my love for it, having introduced me. Granny tells the story that I would have to have my “cossee” with Grandaddy in the mornings, albeit little more than a spoonful of actual brew in hot milk. Café au lait is something for which I have had a love all my life. . .literally. So bundled in layers and cable knit cap, I made my way to Mountain View Cemetery in Vinton, VA with two Starbucks cups: one for me, one for Grandaddy. The conviction in finding him this morning was as palpable as the smoky steam from the waxed paper cups.

I would drive up.

Park.

Get out of the car with two hot cups and a yoga mat.

An umbrella would shield me from the rain to the graveside.

I’d sit.

And we’d have our morning coffee and love each other. . .

Like we used to.

And that is exactly what occurred. Upon driving in the front gate, I suddenly remembered. From decades ago the memory of exactly where he was unconsciously guided my steering. I stopped the car three feet from his grave…no searching required. I knew it as I opened the car door. . .how could I not know where he lay? Inconceivable.

I will always come for you…the words echoed in my ears.
Do you think a love like this happens every day?

And so we sat and had hot café au lait and I remembered why I love him so very much. He showed me that there is a worthiness in me that should be given only to those who are deserving. That my love and trust must be earned through authenticity, and genuine affection, for that is how he loved me. As I saw the Starbucks princess siren on the cup placed on his grave, the lesson came to me. To honor Grandaddy is to become the woman I would have been if he had loved me into my adulthood. Not that who I am is shabby, unaccomplished or would disappoint him, but Beloved is the one who needs to become. To be sure, I will need his guidance by reminding myself of the feeling I had sitting there in the rain, of sitting in his lap.

And I asked him,

Please stay near to me Grandaddy. I promise I will come back and we will have coffee again and I ‘ll tell you more of this journey of mine.

I heard his reply in the rain on the leaves, the bird song, the herald of tiny forsythia and the blush of the redbud.

As you wish . . . he said,

. . .beloved.

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