Sally and the Sparklers

Two weeks after the funeral, 5-year-old Sally came to see me early one Saturday morning. She was wearing her mom’s leather jacket that dragged across the floor. She looked so small and vulnerable as she came into my psychotherapy office. Sally was there to talk about her grandmother who had died recently. We talked a lot about her grandmother, who had created memorable adventures and fun on their annual summer beach vacation.

Somehow, a ceremony of some sort seemed in order and we decide to create an impromptu ritual to honor her special relationship with her grandmother. At the last moment of preparation, I spontaneously dive into the back of my closet and come out with a buried box of sparklers – for some reason, they seemed like just the right touch.

Sally and I are standing on the back porch of my office when her mom comes up the stairs and looks at me wide-eyed and silently mouths, “I will tell you later.”

As the rain pings off the stairs and banister, all three of us solemnly light our sparklers and silently send our thoughts and blessings to her fun-loving grandmother.

Sally’s mom calls later and tells me that sparklers were an annual tradition with the grandmother. How did I know? I didn’t. But I feel fairly certain that Sally’s grandmother had guided me in some way. And those seconds of sparkly light gave Sally the farewell she needed from her grandmother who, unbeknownst to me, brought sparklers to every beach vacation.

From my perspective, our loved ones are still cheering us on from the other side of the veil. A truly, who couldn’t do with a little sparkly light when our lives have become cloudy.

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