A pulling sensation

By Maria Lattanze
July 23, 2020

Sunrise over Wildwood Crest, NJ beach
Photo by Maria Lattanze
Sunrise over Wildwood Crest, NJ beach Photo by Maria Lattanze

I miss you.  With every passing day, I miss you more and more.  I wish you were still here; still here to see Sarah graduate, to see me test for 3rd-degree black belt, to see your family conquer the everyday battle called life.  You left too soon, but you fought until your body gave out.  We all cried for days, but we slowly started to realize that you were still with us in your way.

Joyleen Branco loved spending time with family and going to the beach
Photo by Lauren Lattanze

A week after you left, we started to find dimes in the most unusual places.  It began with your children, each finding dimes either on their bedside tables, the floor of their homes or on their desks.  As explainable as these instances may be, each surface was clear of any change or clutter and when the individual returned, there would be a random dime on the surface.

My experience happened a month after your passing.  I had recently gone back to school and still felt depressed and miserable, finding it hard to concentrate while holding back tears.  On the way to lunch one day, I happened to kick an object on the ground and my friend said it was a dime.  Without hesitation, I said it was mine and she picked it up and gave it to me.  As I looked at this small, shiny object, I instantly felt relaxed, as if something lifted off my shoulders.

I began to find more and more dimes over the years and I keep them all in a small chest on my dresser.  I usually find a dime whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, and I can almost hear you saying “It’s going to be okay, I’m here.”  However, dimes aren’t the only times I know you are here.

* * * * * * * *

The beach was your favorite place to be.  Mom still tells me stories about going on vacation as a child and how you would stay on the beach all day from dawn to dusk. You also used to get so excited to come on vacation with us even though you would only stay for the weekend.  I guess I know where my excitement comes from whenever we plan for our vacation to the beach.

Ever since you left, I found myself getting more excited to go on vacation.  It felt like a pulling sensation, longing for the days leading up to vacation to grow shorter.  Almost as if you were calling me saying “soon, you’ll be here soon with me.”

Joyleen Branco loved spending time with her grandchildren, Sarah Lattanze pictured (2006)
Photo by Lauren Lattanze

The beach is my happy place, sitting here in the sand, listening and watching the waves crash on the shore and the sun rising overhead.  I feel at peace on the beach because you are here.  Of all the places I know you could have gone, I know you are here next to me.

I can almost feel you next to me on the beach, sitting in the sand watching the different people set up their unique, colorful umbrellas, listening to the waves crash and of course, looking for seashells.  You were the master when searching for shells. I remember once we were out playing deep in the ocean and all of a sudden you bent down and picked up a huge shell. Just out of nowhere, you had a shell. And you kept them all in jars, buckets and bags. I’m not any better, I learned from the best.

On the day we leave, my heart aches.  I want to stay because I don’t want to leave you. I want more time with you.  This is the only time of the year I get to spend with you and it’s only for a short while, so I tried to make every moment count.

On the drive back from the shore, I can feel the distance between us growing larger and larger, as if I am leaving you behind.  It’s a horrible feeling, and I wish I could stay forever, be with you forever.  The sensational pull now turns into emptiness in my heart.

I miss you, with every passing day I miss you more.  You left too soon but you fought so long and hard.  I still feel you with me, but not as much as if I were at the beach.  You’re there, and I’m here.  But I’ll be with you again, soon.  I love you, Grandma.

Joyleen Branco with her husband, Richard Branco at Wildwood Crest, NJ beach
Photo by Lauren Lattanze

Maria Lattanze

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