Last night, I had a dream. I pulled a bright red, dusty old car into a gravel driveway next to a tiny white house in the middle of miles and miles of long, blowing grass. I got out and looked around. The sun had cast an orange, hazy light on each green blade. Every speck of dust was illuminated as they lazily floated in and out of the streams of sunlight. I started walking down a hill. It was the same hill that my friends and I played on years ago at reccess. We would roll down it and make our secret hide-outs. We played t-ball in that grass on Wednesday nights and ate popsicles. Then, in my dream, I started to run.
When I got to the bottom, Duchess ran up and and jumped on me. She was on a leash, and my grandpa was holding the other end of it. He was wearing his work uniform even though he had been retired for years. It was a blue, button-up collared shirt with matching slacks. The same one he wore when he was an extra in the movie "Terms of Endearment." I was always so proud to tell people that my grandparents were in that movie.
And then he looked at me. My grandpa. His appearance hadn't change in the 16 years I knew him, not even in my dream. Square glasses, hair parted on the side, mustache, and visible graying whiskers. Suddenly, I panicked when I realized I didn't know what color his eyes were. And then he smiled at me. Grandpa didn't have a very big smile because he didn't have teeth. If a stranger saw grandpa smile, they would think it was just a common pleasantry, but I knew his smile meant something special. I knew exactly what he was saying to me, and when I smiled back, he knew exactly what I was saying to him. It was the most meaningful, heartfelt, silent conversation we ever shared. It was a smile that no one else could see but me.
It was the same smile that he gave me just days before he died. Every time I went to visit my grandpa, I hugged and kissed him goodbye before leaving. Every time. But one of the last times, he was too sick and as I leaned over to kiss him, he put his hand up as if to say, "Not this time." My heart broke. I couldn't leave without kissing him, so I smiled and blew him one. That's when he smiled at me and blew a kiss back. No one else in the room saw it. It is still one of the most cherished moments of my life.
In my dream after he smiled at me, I ran up and hugged him. I could feel his whiskers against my face. We hugged for a long time and when I woke up, my cheeks were wet with tears.