This is a true story.

Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were especially eager to spend the holiday and long weekend with our son and daughter. Both of our grown children lived within an hour’s drive from us, but busy with work and other aspects of life, we hadn’t seen much of one another. They, too, were looking forward to being “home” and enjoying our laidback time together.

Exhausted from a truncated workweek in which she’d crammed five days into three, my daughter arrived at our house several hours later on Wednesday than she’d planned. Finally able to close her laptop, she had us gather around to share an unexpected gift that had materialized at the perfect time in the most unusual way.

As she explained, for several days prior, my daughter had been struggling with a drawer of a lingerie chest. The furniture had belonged to her beloved grandmother (my mother-in-law), who’d passed away around Thanksgiving, three years prior. My daughter had been using the chest for over two years, when, just that week, something had shifted behind the drawer and blocked it from closing all the way. Too preoccupied to deal with the annoyance any sooner, she suddenly lost her patience. In the midst of packing the clothes she’d wear while staying with us, she grabbed hold of the dresser and shook it mightily!

Petite but strong, she exerted enough force to dislodge a puffy manilla envelope. It was stuffed with papers. Her curiosity instantly replaced her irritation. What in the world was so important for her grandmother to keep hidden in the lingerie chest? She was about to examine the contents when a single paper, folded in half, escaped and landed on the floor. She picked it up and read the fancy script: Happy Thanksgiving!

Overcome with emotion, my daughter collapsed to the floor in tears.

Hearing about this and experiencing the spine-tingling sensation of her sweet spirit, the four of us agreed that my mother-in-law’s love had surpassed the barrier between the here and hereafter to connect with my daughter, who, in turn, knew to pass along the sentiments to us.

Only later, upon looking over the paper, did I uncover the other reason for its significance.

The holiday greeting headlined an invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s assisted-living residence. The event itself wouldn’t have been meaningful to my mother-in-law; however, the date—her granddaughter’s birthday—would have mattered. That’s why she’d saved the invite that would one day allow her to send dual supernatural salutations to her granddaughter: Happy Thanksgiving and (I haven’t forgotten) Happy Birthday!

We all received the one message that mattered: I love you.

Some don’t believe that a communication between the living and dead is possible. Even those of us who acknowledge such interactions must recognize that they are far more complicated than any meaningful contact we could have with people who are in our lives right now.

We might grapple for the perfect words and timing to avoid awkwardness, rejection, or other unpleasant outcomes. We might face actual or imagined barriers that prevent us from getting through or even trying. We can make all kinds of excuses and often do, but wouldn’t it be a shame to run out the clock, squandering the opportunity given at any moment to speak from the heart?

My best to you,

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

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