As I rocked back and forth on the wooden swing on my front porch, I stared at the hatbox sitting next to me, wondering if I should open it or not.
I was still wearing my black dress from the funeral. I wasn't ready to take it off yet.
The box arrived on my doorstep while I was at the funeral.
I had no idea where it had come from or who left it here.
Inside of it was this beautiful hatbox covered in pink roses.
Once I saw that, I knew who it was from, and I was not ready to see what was inside.
The ceremony was exactly the way she wanted it. She planned every minute of it herself.
She was amazing that way. She planned everything her whole life, even down to her own funeral.
I know my mom was grateful for that. She was a wreck. She couldn't even get up and speak when it was her turn. That was left up to me.
I don't blame her, though. I will probably be the same when my mother passes.
My Grandma Rose was quite an incredible woman. She lived her life to the fullest until her very last breath. And now I know she is with my grandfather, who left her almost seventeen years ago now.
I know he was waiting for her. I was only two when he died, but from all the stories my mom and Grandma Rose told me about him, I knew he was so in love with her and an extraordinary man himself.
I hope I can fall in love the way they did someday. I smiled as I thought about that with my eyes still glued on the pink rose hatbox sitting on the porch swing next to me.
It was time to open it and see what was waiting for me inside. To see what my Grandma Rose left for me. I already knew she had something up her sleeve with this package delivered to me while I was at her funeral.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what she had in store for me, then I slowly lifted off the lid.
My eyes widened as I saw that there were all kinds of things inside of it.
The very first thing on the top of the pile was a black leather-bound journal.
I brushed my hand over the cover and smelled it. It smelled like her. She had obviously spent a lot of time preparing this for me. I knew that much.
I peeled off the elastic that held the notebook closed and opened the journal to the first page.
I slide my hand across the page and touched her handwriting before I began to read.
My dearest Little Rose,
She always called me that no matter how old I got and because I was named after her.
Everywhere we would go, she would say, "My name is Rose, and this is my Little Rose."
She was so proud to be my grandmother, and I was so proud to be her granddaughter.
I choked back a tear and continued to read before I thought about it too much.
I know today is a day that you never wanted to come. But we both knew that it would. It's okay to be sad for now. I am sad that it was my time to leave you.
But please promise me you won't stay sad for too long. I want my Little Rose to have such a happy and wonderful life, and the best part for you is… yours is just beginning!
I know it may feel like an end, but it's not. I promise! And I will always be with you, watching every step of the way.
That is why I made this hatbox for you. I am sure you recognized it immediately.
It was the one you always wanted to play with when you were little. You would carry it around like a purse and collect all kinds of things inside of it from around the house.
When you got older and stopped asking for it when you came over, I began to collect my own things over the years and put them inside of it just for you.
My first gift to you is a picture of your grandfather and me after we first met. He was the love of my life. When he looked at me, I knew there was no one else in the world that could compare. I want that for you, my Little Rose.
I picked up the picture from the box and gazed at the two of them looking at each other with such love. It was a beautiful thing to see what real love looked like between two people. They both looked so happy!
My second gift to you is my rose brooch. When you were younger and played dress up in my closet, you always put this one on no matter what else you already had on. I honestly think you did it without even realizing it.
She was right. I didn't realize it, but I knew it reminded me of her. That is probably why I did it. I took the brooch out of the box and pined it onto my black dress right next to my heart.
My third gift to you is your grandfather's pocket watch. He loved that watch. He would carry it with him whether he went. Now you can do the same and know that he will always be with you.
I examined the antique silver watch in my hand. I don't know if I had ever seen this before, but I knew I would always treasure it now.
My fourth gift to you is my grandmother's pearl necklace. I only wore it on special occasions, just the same as her. It was the only valuable piece of jewelry she ever owned, and she took so much pride in herself when she wore it.
I smiled, remembering my Grandma Rose wearing these beads with that same pride.
My fifth gift to you is a photo album. I collected all the pictures from all your special moments that I had the privilege of seeing during your life. I left the last few pages blank in the back because you still have so many moments yet to come in your life. Remember to enjoy them!
I laid the album on my lap and began to admire each picture that was in it. Tears were flowing down my cheeks and falling on the pages as I was reminded of all the wonderful memories our family shared together over the years.
My sixth gift to you is the engagement ring that your grandfather gave me. I want you to have it for when you find that special man that loves you as much as your grandfather loved me. You deserve that, so don't settle for anything less!
I held the ring up into the sunlight and let it sparkle just like my Grandma Rose did!
My seventh and final gift is in a lockbox stored at the top of your closet. The key is in the back pocket of this journal.
Now dry your tears, my Little Rose, and face this world, so you can show them how bright you can shine! It will inspire others as you have inspired me. You have something extraordinary inside of you, so don't hide it from the world.
Just don't ever forget to be bold and go after what you want in life.
To be kind to others even when they are not kind to you.
To be graceful with your actions to show your true beauty.
To be genuine and sincere to every person you meet, no matter what.
To be creative with your mind in everything you set out to do.
To be courageous when you face things you are afraid of.
To be loving to the people you love and the people you don't.
And most of all, to be YOU through and through!
I wiped my tear-soaked face off with the back of my hand, closed the journal, and then hugged it close to my heart.
I looked around at all the things my Grandma Rose left me. These things were literally pieces of her heart.
I still had one more left to find. I took the key out of the back pocket and went to my bedroom to open my closet.
The top shelf was stacked with shoeboxes to the ceiling. I pulled them down one by one, and it was just sitting there—a little black lockbox.
I wrapped both of my hands around it and sat down on my bed. I brushed my hand across the top of it, then closed my eyes and took a deep breath before I opened it.
I slid the key into the lock and slowly twisted it until I heard the latch release, then I slowly lifted the lid.
Sitting in the middle of the box was a stack of cash that amounted to $20,000 tied together with a red ribbon.
The tears began to flow again uncontrollably.
My grandmother thought of everything I would need after she was gone.
She knew me better than I knew myself.
The deep stabbing pain I had felt in my chest all day began to dull, and I felt warm with thoughts of her.
All the memories she gave me and all the lessons she taught me replayed in my head.
I knew I would never be truly alone. She would always be with me wherever I go and will live on through me to every person I meet!
I closed my eyes and pictured her sitting next to me and whispered,"I love you Grandma Rose and thank you for all the beautiful gifts you have left for me! I will treasure each and every one of them!"