So sorry (not!) to keep you waiting again with the cliffhangers. Maybe you’re just like, come on witch! Let’s get this longass story over with, already! Well, we’re nearing the end, so buckle up, because you’re in for a wild ride!
In the first part of this saga, you saw me dedicate this website to my grandma Lillian who gave me my aesthetic and an appreciation for the finer things in life:
(I really hate having to post this again for you, but you know, I am going for the comedic triple and the rule of threes! Hopefully I won’t be karmically lured in by a red balloon sticking out of a sewer.)
Then, you learned in part two that my Grampa didn’t believe in magic. He may have never been able to experience magic, which I find unfortunate. However, I am grateful I forgave him and didn’t stop believin’ or let him crush my dreams of being a magickal witch!
He didn’t care much for spirituality or religion. Having an audience laughing at his jokes was his synagogue. He made my life lighter with laughter. He would be happy to see me continuing his comedic tradition.
Despite my Grampa, I knew magic was real because of my Uncle Stephen. He WAS my everything, he IS my guardian angel.
I told you some of my favorite memories of him: how he made thunder and lightning no longer frightening, the precious, priceless treasures he gifted me, his acknowledgment of the everlasting joy of a sparkly, shiny, colorful rock. I mean, I could write a book about him here, but that’s not what you’re looking for. Or are you?
No, no you’re not. You’re looking for the solution to the cliffhanger…And I already shared some of the amazing ways he reached out from beyond his grave…but wait…there’s more!
Like a spider weaving her web, my last post, “How a Lady Doing my Eyebrows got me into the Grad School of my dreams,” was actually leading up to the resolution of this soap opera of a Dead-ication of mine. Bet you had no clue!
After I was accepted into grad school, I was given an exciting piece of information from Mary Pat (who had now become my academic advisor aka the Empress of Academics). As a requirement for the program, I needed to visit Maine for a week-long residency.
“What part of Maine?” I asked, knowing Maine was a vastly big state compared to tiny Rhode Island.
Mary Pat replied, “Surry, Maine, near Acadia National Park.”
I was ecstatic! I had never stayed in Maine before, but I loved the day trips I had taken. In all of my adult life, I’d never been able to afford to travel overnight. So, this was like being given a cupcake with a huge heap of swirled buttercream frosting covered with rainbows on top.
Not only was I required to travel, but it would give me academic credit and my financial aid would cover most of it! That was exciting enough in itself.
Overjoyed, I went to tell my mom about this. She gasped when I said, “It’s near Acadia National Park, in Maine.” Her face suddenly became pale as a ghost. “That was your Uncle Stephen’s favorite place in the whole world. It was also one of the last places he visited before he died.”
Then I gasped, and turned into an even paler version of my mother. Like, I don’t know what’s paler than a ghost except this photo of Stephen underwater before he came a real ghost:
This news of travel felt divine in some way, but I had no idea of all the surprises in store. I hoped that this could bring me closer to my Uncle in some way. The Spring semester flew by and suddenly I was ready to leave for the residency.
Surry, Maine is about a 6 hour drive from my house, and I was going on my first solo road trip all of a sudden. At the time, driving gave me a lot of anxiety. I didn’t know if I could do this all on my own. I had to drive through Boston! The place I had always avoided driving in!
My mom was probably more scared for me than I was. Forty-five minutes after leaving my house, I passed through Sharon, MA, to pee and get coffee that would just make me pee more. I found myself seeking reassurance from my mom on the phone. This was the most familiar part of my trip, so I was still confident. I’d soon be entering Boston, though. I continued on. Dun dun dun…
My Stephen senses were tingling. I felt his presence in my backseat. When I got into Boston, there was an important intersection I needed to cross. One would bring me where I wanted to go, and the other to a panic attack. I had no idea what I was doing or which fork in the road to take. I realized at the last possible minute that I was about to go the wrong way. I was on the median, trying to get over to the left side, back onto the road. So many possibilities could have occurred, but I emerged unscathed. I breathed a sigh of relief, and my confidence grew. My Stephen senses weren’t just tingling anymore. I had goosebumps.
This solo road trip that ended up spanning about a total of 8-9 hours because of all the stops I took to pee (plus a visit to a fancy raw vegan restaurant in Beverly MA,an impromptu hike in the woods with my friend Rachael in Gray, ME, and more snacks than I needed) could be 2-3 chapters in a book about me and my uncle’s connection, but I’ll try to spare you that for now.
I was legally driving 80 mph down a long stretch of highway with Moose crossing warnings (okay Maine, let’s advocate hitting a moose at 80mph!) when I unexpectedly got a call from my mom. “Your grandmother is in the hospital. She has something called delirium. It’s not looking good. What do you want me to do if she dies?”
The last time I visited my grandmother, she watched me color mandalas while she breathed with the support of a can of oxygen pumping into her nose. My mom left us alone to do errands, and I was glad I got to spend that alone time with my Grammie. I assumed that was the last time she would be the woman I knew. So, when I left that day, I tearfully told her I loved her. “I love you too, Sweetie,” she responded. I wanted to hold onto that memory of her forever. I had the foresight even then to know this was the start of the end of her life.
The FOMO (fear of missing out in millennial-speak) on this residency experience filled me with dread. I felt my uncle’s presence so strongly, sending me a message that I NEEDED to stay through residency, even if my grandmother died.
So, I asked my mom to withhold any unnecessary information (unless I asked specifically). I asked that if she died, not to call me until I was safely back at home. “But please, if she does die, and you can stall the funeral, do. I already said my goodbyes to her the last time I saw her.” She questioned this, but I reiterated it.
Ugh, sorry guys, I swear to the Universe that I did not intend to have another cliffhanger here…but it looks like that’s going to happen…now.
Stay tuned after a few unrelated posts for the fourth and final installment (please!?) of this long ass dead-ication. Like, I think this is the longest dedication ever to be written… if this was the Oscars the symphony would start playing and the curtains would be coming down on me or something. The award presenters would be forcefully yet gracefully taking my arm and escorting me backstage. And then I’d get yelled at by the producers of the show and there’d be Hollywood gossip about me everywhere. Headlines like: “Why did Laura Kaplan have to dedicate her award to so many dead people?”
That juicy gossip will all make sense, I promise. The best part is coming next.
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