The passing of decades renders it as a shaken snow globe, but the memory is frozen in time - vivid stories of lollipop trees, m&m-strewn paths, jellybean rain, and the occasional french fry tree. Fairies were ever-present if I could just turn quickly enough to catch a glimpse of their world within the green fairy moss that was everywhere, and be whisked away from my world to theirs. The day I ran out to the Enchanted Forest behind Grandma's house and saw actual m&m's lining the entrance to the forest, I knew without a doubt fairies were real.
Racing back to tell my Grandma, she opened her lap to my anxious, rambunctious, messy self and listened intently as I told her all about the fairyland she had created for me. Her soft and lilting voice, laced with a touch of the "Old Richmond" accent, was solace for the mini-storms that already raged in my 7 year old mind. When I spoke, she focused all her attention on me - her Special Girl, as she called me. Me, the chaotic child, the one who tested my family's patience to the limit with my out of control fears and emotions. Me, one of 13 beloved grandchildren, and she called me her Special Girl.
I didn't see her often, but when I did, it was always the same: her arms were safety personified, her house was my refuge, her presence enfolded me in peace, and her affectionate chuckles at my silly antics bolstered my already-dwindling self-esteem. Her love was always right there waiting - love like I'd never experienced anywhere else. When anxiety rose up to take hold like the terrifying monster it was, it was her voice that could calm me. She knew me, and more than that, she saw me. Her empathy and compassionate nature were unmatched. She once told my mother, "Missy is a sensitive girl, and she'll need a lot of extra love and understanding as she grows up."
I have carried that statement, the knowledge that she deeply and inexplicably understood me, and the memory of her love like a balm all my life.
When she died, I couldn't cry, so deep was the grief of my 9 year old spirit. My body and mind expressed their grief in other ways over the years. She was my safe person, and I was never the same after she died.
Whenever I see vibrant green fairy moss or read about fairyland or enchanted forests, when I get a brief whiff of the lavender-like scent that enveloped the breeze around her house on summer nights, I hear her laughter and imagine she's with me still.