The morning after my grandma died last October, the sun turned the clouds the most brilliant orange I’ve ever seen. There was also lavender and grayish blues and golden yellows. I’d never seen a sunrise like it. It was like God and my grandma were telling me everything was going to be OK – that even though I’d lost one of the best people I’ll ever know, there was more beauty to come, and someone was watching over me.
I wouldn’t have seen that sunrise had I not asked the pilot who flies our station’s helicopter if I could have a ride that day. It was during the week of Albuquerque’s annual Balloon Fiesta and our station was taking aerial video of the launches every day that week. I wouldn’t be flying to Utah for the funeral for a couple more days and decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
I had to get up crazy early, when the night was still in charge, and drive to the airport in the dark. The pilot would take three of us up that morning and as we waited for him to get everything ready, we walked outside the garage where the helicopter was parked and began to see amazing views of the sun rising behind the mountains. I felt so thankful to be there, to have this incredible moment the day after I fell apart making pumpkin pie in an effort to keep it together.
We got to ride in the helicopter for a couple hours and the views were incredible – hundreds of balloons in 1,000 colors rising and falling near the Rio Grande, green trees covering the ground to the west, the Sandia mountains in shades of purple to the east. I kept thinking through it all that this ride was for my grandma – I only wished she could see it.
About a month ago, my husband and I drove to the airport in the early hours of the morning so he could fly out east for a work conference. The sky was similar to that day in October and I kept looking behind us as Travis steered us to the freeway. Once we were on I-25, I had a good view to my left and some of the same thankful feelings I had in October returned.
I see my grandma in the clouds now. Sometimes I miss her so much it hurts. There have been days lately where I long to call her and catch up – to hear her say, “Well, hello sweetheart, how are you?” I wish I could hear her wit, get her to tell me all the family secrets and just talk about the day.
But sometimes, I see her in the clouds – in sunrises and sunsets. In the oranges and pinks and yellows. And I know she’s there. Somewhere.