I went on a guilt trip today. It started when I realized that I was out of flour. I thumbed through my cookbook before I ran to the store so I wouldn't have to make several trips, and that's when I saw the recipe.My mom joked with her a week before Christmas, "Mom, what are you making for Christmas this year?" None of us can recall the last time my grandmother baked anything. "Oooooh my," she stretched out in her magnificent southern drawl over the phone. "I can't believe I forgot to bake something."I could believe it. Alzheimer's had been eating away at her brain for years. "You tell Kayla to come over here when she isn't busy to help me bake a Jelly Cake." I was standing in the same room with my mother when this conversation was happening. "She wants to you help her bake a cake," she said as I loaded the dishwasher.The look on her face was one of "isn't that just so adorable?" I said, "I'm working the next three days but I can go over Thursday or Saturday."The days turned into a week and I never made it over to my grandmother's house before Christmas. I told her that I felt bad about being so busy but she said that she understood.On January 5th, my mom called me at work, barely able to get a word out between sobs. "Something's wrong....with Meme. Can you go?"
I slammed the phone down, grabbed my purse, told my employee something was wrong, and I sprinted through the parking lot.I had my hazard lights on and my hand on the horn for the entire two and a half mile drive from my store to her house. "No!" I told myself. "Please just let this be a fall. Please, God, please! I didn't help her with the cake yet." I parked haphazardly in the front yard so that I wasn't blocking the ambulance. I left my keys in the ignition and the car door open as I ran to the door, nearly colliding with an EMT who wouldn't look me in the eye. That's when I knew that she didn't make it."What happened, Doc?" I asked my grandfather. "Your grandmother is gone," he said in a low, sullen voice. I went to the deserted front doorstep and sat in the cold as I waited for more people to arrive.My parents finally arrived after about 20 minutes and I could hear my mother's guttural wails echoing through the house. She threw her arms over my grandmothers lifeless body and cried the pain of a thousand heartaches. I refused to go into her bedroom and see her. I didn't want to remember her like that.
I arrived home from the store several hours ago. I bought the flour, vanilla extract, raspberry jelly, making sure not to leave anything out. I mixed the ingredients carefully. I made sure this would be the most incredible cake I ever baked.
I wrapped it carefully in colorful plastic wrap, tied a beautiful pink bow at the top, and drove to the cemetery. I walked down to her grave, the dirt still fresh even after two months. I placed the cake delicately next to a bouquet of roses and told her I missed her. I apologized for not being there to help her bake the cake. The sun shone upon my face, drying my tears as they ran down my cheeks. "I love you," I told her as I turned to leave.
I've been avoiding this trip for two months. The guilt has been unbearable, eating away at me until I become physically ill. Today I made that cake for my grandmother. Better late than never.Do you have any regrets or guilt in your relationships? Is there anything left unsaid or undone?