Angel bumps

Depending on the year and circumstance, holidays can be joyful. They can be painful.  They can be one or both of those things, all wrapped into one package.

My grandmother, me, and my grandfather

Every year in December, I think of all loved ones that I miss, but especially my grandmother, Millie. She died a few days before Christmas in 2001.

As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, a familiar song or scent that serves as a reminder of a loved one can prompt smiles or tears at any time of the year. For me, the sound of polka music and the smell of pierogies with onions whisk me to memories of my grandparent's home.

Polka music and pierogies: I rarely encounter either of those, but when I do, I can't help but smile and sometimes cry.

When driving my mother to her first cancer treatment five years ago, I was filled with fear and missing my grandmother. She, too, had lived with cancer and the process of treating it. I knew that she would understand and know just the right thing to say in that situation.

As I drove toward the drop-off area, my mind went blank. I had lots to say and yet nothing to say.

And then, the static on the radio that I had neglected to adjust on the drive switched to polka music - loud, blaring, over-the-top happy, polka music.

It was a goosebump moment.

Or, as writer Anne Bardsley calls it, an "angel bump" moment.

I laughed at the silliness of it. It was the last thing I expected to happen in that otherwise unpleasant time. But that's how my grandmother rolled; she could find joy and create laughter in any situation. Remembering her, and feeling like she was right there, was comforting.

Earlier this year, I learned that Anne was putting together an anthology called Angel Bumps, and I felt that it was time to share this story.

Angel Bumps - Hello from Heaven features 60 goosebump-worthy stories penned by 50 writers around the country.

Polka Pick-Me-Up is one of them! Signed copies of the book are available here.

Each story offers morsels of comfort to those who are missing loved ones. Being without a loved one can feel lonely, but these stories  - these angel bumps - reassure those experiencing grief that they are not alone.