“Twenty-six more kilometres and we are in Grand Forks,” I said as she starred blankly out the window watching the pine trees pass by in a blur. “Are we headed directly to their house?” Came my second first of three questions. The others being, would you like to stop for a coffee or ice cream and wonder how long they will want us to hang around. Neither of the last two questions were answered. After what seemed like six-hours of silence she finally responded to the original question with “perhaps we should go to their house. Do you need me to look up directions?”
She smiled as did I, both of us knowing damn well that I didn’t need instructions on how-to locate their house. For most people they would pull out their phone punch in the address of their family member and locate their house. I, however am like human GPS. If I have been there once I will know precisely how-to get back to that same spot. Albeit, it might not be the quickest or shortest route but you will get to your destination.
Headed into town we passed over the small trestle bridge that crosses over the Granby River then headed west along Central Avenue. At 5th Street we turned left passing between Gyro Park and Grand Forks Visitor Centre. Pulling the Tacoma to a stop at 72nd Avenue we paused then turned right two blocks later we yielded onto 8th Street which turns into Kettle River Drive and runs alongside the Kettle River. Another handful of blocks went by and she says, “are you sure you know where you are going? We’ve not been here in like four years?”
Slowing the Tacoma, I point out the window towards a 150-foot black trestle bridge which serves as part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail and said, “Don’t you remember. This is where we all took that walk several years back. Dave, Mel, You and Me?” She starred out the window trying to remember that time which I was recalling. As we continued the drive, I pointed out things that we saw during that walk as well as a couple of others. She smiled then blew me a kiss. “I should never doubt that you know where you are going.”
As we got closer to their street I was looking up each trying to spot the white church which is slightly up the hill from their home. I didn’t spot it and guessed at the next turn. I was wrong. I turned down 18th and as I drove through I spotted the back of their home. Double back with a couple of rights, I found the church pointed it out and turned down their street. A couple houses down on the right was their house with one of their Subaru Outback wagons sitting in the driveway.
Lights on in the house, we rang the door bell and awaited someone to answer it. After five minutes of standing on the porch she says, “I’ll text him and see where we are supposed to meet them?” A couple more texts later she laughs and says, “we need to go to the hospital. Guess I should have realized that.” Back in the Tacoma we headed up the street then a right on 19th Street and five minutes later pulled into the parking spot next to their other Subaru Outback, right next to the helicopter pad just like he said in his text.
Getting out of the truck we spotted Dave walking towards us. We all embraced and talked about the trip down. He informed she was in good spirits and our timing was impeccable. The elephant was getting closer with each move we made.
Dave tapped his electronic ID card which gave us access to the back door of the hospital, we forgot face masks but he said as long as we stayed in her room we wouldn’t have to wear one. Unless we decided to wander around the facility. We both nodded our understanding of these rules.
Standing behind Shauna we entered the room in a single file line. Dave, Shauna, myself and the Elephant. He had followed us into the room. I asked him silently if he could leave and he shook his head. I pleaded with him that this was not fair and they deserved better. Take someone who doesn’t have all of this to live for. A great husband, two growing daughters and parents who love their daughter. Heck I said I would trade places with her. He smiled and winked back at my ludicrous offer. The deed was done, and all we could do was spend an hour or two cheering her up.
Shauna sat beside her bed and began her conversation with Mel.
On the other side of the room Dave and I began to catch up on life over the last four years. Our high spirits calmed the somber room. Everyone was fantastic and surprised with how attentive Mel was with the multiple conversations going on in the room.
An hour came and went very quickly but our time with the family was fantastic. We laughed, joked and told stories about life. The elephant snuggled up between Shauna and Mel. No one saw him but me. I stopped breathing a couple of times putting my left hand in my pocket to stroke the obsidian and rose quartz sitting in my pocket. Along with a special gift that I had brought with me to give to Mel. I was hoping she would understand my gesture of kindness and love. After all she was our favourite cousin.
Standing up, Dave offered us a beverage then the nurse appeared out of nowhere. She asked how everyone was doing. Then approached Mel with a long shot. They went over what was happening today and a bit of their routine ignited. She laughed at a joke I just told the oldest daughter about her toy cellphone. Everyone smiled. Knowing that I was just being me. The nurse thanked us all then Dave informed he had to take their daughter home to get food in her. The aunt and uncle offered to have us meet up with them and go out for lunch ourselves.
Mel staying strong as could be brightened the room with one of her award winning smiles and thanked us for coming but said that we should stay behind until she fell asleep. Everyone gave hugs and kisses to her. Then departed the room. A few seconds later Dave reappeared and says, “hey love. I cannot go without giving you one of these.” He leaned in gave her a long kiss and told her how beautiful she was and he’d see her later. She smiled and repeated the same to him.
“Guys, I’m pretty tired. I love you both for coming. And I really enjoyed our conversations,” she says to us pulling the blanket up to her chin and tucking her head into the pillow. “Before we fawk-off, I wanted to give you something,” I said reaching into my pocket to pull out the piece of blue kyanite that had travelled over 1500 kilometres to be here with all of us in this very moment.
Placing it in her palm she picked it up with her left forefinger and thumb. Lifting it into the air she says “Thank you. Its beautiful,” and at the exact same time, we both said what type of gemstone it is. Followed by Shauna who said, “are you going to inform why you are giving her this specific stone?” I starred at Shauna the tears welling up in my eyes for the first time since entering into the room. I held my breathe a moment, calmed my nerves and turned my head towards Mel then responded with, “blue kyanites’ power is in healing, protection and assisting with emotions. I believe its one of the most beautiful stones and I wanted you to have it, to help you on your journey.”
Smiling she nodded at us both and says, “you both are full of life and joy. I’m truly blessed to have you in my life and I’m excited to come see your new home soon. Thank you for this beautiful afternoon and I’m going to take a nap now. As my friend is coming in a little while and I want to be attentive when she’s here.” We nodded our understanding and each of us gave her a long hug. Just before I withdrew from our hug she whispers into my left ear, “its not your burden, this elephant in the room. It is mine and please take care of my cousin. I love you both.”