There is a smell in the trees here that I cannot place. It’s a peppery, grassy smell that wafts elusively into the car but when you inhale it disappears. Once we park I gulp great lungfuls of it, and exclaim delightedly because it is the smell of childhood holidays, and it takes me back.
It takes me back to sliding down red dirt mounds, ruining shorts, the scarlet of the mecurochrome dabbed on our inevitable scratches a necessary part of the endeavour.
It takes me back to reading magazines in the visitors hut and sleeping in there on Easter night, delightedly hoarding foil wrapped treasure. To ‘the little princess’ audiobook in the van on the way home from the beach, or shopping. Here I heard ‘Wonderwall’ for the first time – little realising. Here I watched Romeo and Juliet and my cousins wept as I laughed at them, but I wish I didn’t.
Here is the summer of men making mud bricks to construct a house of dreams. Here is the place of chocolate swirls on dessert plates and bubble glasses and a box of wine in the fridge. The strains of ‘can you feel the love tonght’ creeping up from the piano below. Kangaroo skins on the floor. Swinging under the jungle carport.
Here we played practical jokes and wore makeup. Here we listened to Enya and pretended to be older than our years.
Here is my family, lines of happiness stretching back into the past. Here is my Grandma, except this time she isn’t.
Today we visited her and she lay in bed, pale and twinkling. She was the same, but different. She was still mine – ours – for a while.
And yet really she is not anyones but His, the one who makes her peaceful despite the raging inside. And as she talked about heaven, which she sees when she closes her eyes, she said excitedly: “People think I’ll be afraid but I’m happy. I’m so darn happy. I can’t believe how happy I am”.
Here in this place of dreams, of memories and of looking back, she is not. She is somewhere without a history for us, but she is looking forward and her eyes shine as she speaks of meeting her King. I will write about her properly one day, but not today. Today I will sit in this house that reminds me of her and listen to the cries of a cat who misses her and breathe in the tree smell that envelopes my senses, and be thankful that, because of Jesus, the beauty of the past will be eclipsed in every way by what is to come.