All these years you have heard me talk about my six grandchildren. Today I realize that I never mentioned a seventh granddaughter. Her name was Gracie, and yesterday she put on her little wings and went to heaven.
Some years ago my son Nicholas and his wife Melissa decided to adopt Gracie. I thought it was a good decision because even though they already have three children, they are excellent parents. Soon thereafter they brought her home. Her siblings immediately welcomed her and she, likewise, quickly became fond of them.
Gracie was not pretty. She was short and had round, bulging eyes that looked like marbles. Her nose seemed out of place; it was too long and flat. Her hair was curly and wild. She was always busy and was not fond of snuggles and this, in particular, disappointed me. We always suspected that someone had abused her because every time we touched her, she cowered. She only allowed Nicholas the privilege of caressing her, and sometimes she would curl up on his lap.
Despite her homeliness, Gracie had her charming side. She was motherly and very protective of defenseless beings. The fact that she was small did not stop her from being "the mother of the chicks". She sought after her siblings and did not leave them for a moment. When they left for school, she'd cry, miserably, and when they came back she was overjoyed with excitement. She knew everyone's routine to perfection. At what time they ate, bathed and went to bed. The night time drill was her favorite. At seven o'clock, Josefina's bedtime, she'd climb on her sister's bed and listened attentively as we read books. At seven-thirty, Benjamin's bedtime, she'd run to his room and enjoy the second session of the storytelling. At eight-thirty, Lucas's bedtime, she was also there, and there she stayed until he fell asleep.
A couple of times I took care of her in my house. The family went on a trip and they could not take her. Gracie behaved very well but missed her siblings terribly. I would take her to the park and she would run wild and say hello to other children, and although she would not let them touch her, her happiness was obvious.
Recently the family adopted seven chicks. Gracie was the most interested in them. While her brothers quickly got tired of holding them, Gracie literally became the chicks' mom. She would stand on two legs to watch them inside the incubator. And when we held them out, and showed them to her, she would lick them as thought they were her puppies. With them there was a free display of emotion and I am sure she would have nursed them, if she could.
On Friday I slept at their house for the parents were working. After the storybook routine, when I finally went to bed, Gracie went to bed with me. My first impulse was to return her to her bed, but she gave me tenderness and I decided to leave her. I never imagined that we were sharing his last night in this world. A few hours later a car hit her and Gracie died instantly.
My eyes are still filled with the image of Melissa carrying the lifeless body of her little dog. I feel her pain, the pain of my son and that of my nenes. I am distraught by the finality of that moment that, with the grinding of tires, bluntly extinguished the light of a being so full of life, and tenderness.
My grandchildren asked a lot of questions. What happened to Gracie? Why did she die? Where did she go and what will happen to her?
One of Benjamin’s questions’ was particularly poignant:
"Abue, when the dogs die, do they go to the same heaven as their masters?"
So tell me, my dear readers, how would you answer such a question?