The Last Time I Saw My Grandmother

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I was wearing this same blue top,
ten years and one month ago.
She was wearing a matching hue—
a blouse or sweater in royal blue—
our point of connection in a
space where names were long gone.
I held her hand, looked into her
eyes, and saw them sparkle
with recognition—a glint of knowing
that I was someone special, even
if she didn’t know why.

We gathered around her wheelchair—
aunt, uncle, cousin, mom—
in an otherwise vacant visiting room.
Upholstered chairs lined the walls;
an old piano stood sentinel.
We sang a hymn—she loved to sing—
and read from Psalm 103:
“He heals all your diseases.”
Sometimes on earth,
sometimes after.

I got the call in my empty California
classroom, a month and a half later.
I wouldn’t be flying cross-country.
I’d already said goodbye when                            
we’d shared blue and music and heart
and hand and somehow knew:
we were loved.

About the Author

Rachel Kramer Hibma writes poems and essays inspired by her experiences with chronic illness and small-town life. A former English teacher and school counselor, she now does freelance writing and editing. Her poetry has appeared in Lyrical Iowa and Tiny Seed, and she is a member of the Iowa Poetry Association. Rachel and her husband, Dane, attend Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa.