Did you ever play the Wish game when you were a kid?
“If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?”
Did you play that game? If you did, what was your answer? Were you one of the cheater kids who wished for infinity wishes? Or did you play by the rules and think long and hard because, in the grand scheme of life and magic, three wishes just isn’t that many?
My answer has changed considerably over the years. When I was a teenager, I wished for a boyfriend because I was convinced having a boyfriend would solve all of life’s problems. (Ah, the foolishness of youth, before I knew the problems the heart can cause.) When I was 6, I wished for a motorhome, so I could ride around the country with my dalmatian and my grandmother. We would travel to all the states, playing Old Maid and drinking orange juice.
I’m 30 now, way past the point where I was supposed to stop believing in wishes and magic. I’ve lived enough life to know better. Except I don’t, if we were being honest. If we were being honest, I’d tell how much time I spend daydreaming about my three wishes. Sometimes I wish for independent wealth but then I think about how bored I would get, so I take it back. Sometimes I think about wishing for a magical fluency in all the languages in the world but then I worry I won’t appreciate new cultures. Sometimes I wish the people I love would never have to hurt again but then I remember my most important lessons came from the times that hurt me the most — I remember how growth is born from pain.
Tonight I’m wishing for one more conversation with my grandmother. I think about all the years I had with her, all the games of Old Maid, all the afternoons drinking tea and baking in the kitchen, all the times I would cry about something silly in my life and she would hold me and listen and promise me everything would work itself out and I was not to worry anymore. And I get angry with my younger self for taking that time for granted, for not asking her the important questions while I had the chance. Our afternoon teas were filled with the inconsequential chatter of my flighty youth — I would babble about my life while I sipped tea from a fancy china teacup and tried on her sparkly rings.
I was a fool.
If I had three wishes, I would use one of them for one more afternoon tea with Grandmama. And instead of talking about my life and filling the time with my words, I would ask her to tell me about her life. I would spend our time together listening to her stories, learning from her pain, experiencing her joy. I would ask did she know, when she married Granddaddy, that their love would grow to what it was, or did she just hope? They were together for nearly 55 years; did she know at the beginning what their love would turn into or did she just wish?
I would ask and then I would listen. And yes, I would probably listen while trying on her sparkly rings. But I would listen. Because those are the important questions. They are way more important than finding out if she’s proud of me. Way more important than asking her if she thinks I’m making the right decisions in my life. Those questions don’t matter anyway because I know her answer already. She’d tell me it doesn’t matter; right or wrong, my choices are my own and everything will work itself out, so I’m not to worry.
I’m not a child anymore. I know this. But 30 or not, it doesn’t stop me from making wishes, believing in magic, and hoping Grandmama will visit me in a dream sometime soon to tell me stories. I may be 30 now, but I’ll never stop wishing.