Bless Your Bones

My Great-Grandmother Francis use to say “Bless your bones” to anyone no matter the circumstances. You could step on a bee, lose a race, have your heart broken or get an award and it was always “Bless your bones.” I remembered asking her why the saying, what did it mean to her and she answered that blessing a heart was too superficial. The real blessings have to go to the core of a person, down to their bones. As I grew older, I found myself saying it to others. As I worked with abused children, I would find myself whispering it to them while I rocked them. I have children of my own and I say it. When I find myself stressed out, I repeat it over and over in my head. “Bless my bones, Bless my bones..” as if it is a chant that will make everything better.

   My Great-Grandmother became very ill away on a stormy spring day a few years ago. The Dogwood tree’s were blooming and I had set out to start my garden for the year when I received the call the that it might not be much longer. On my drive to her house I found myself saying the little chant repeatedly between “Please let her be alive when I get there.” As I walked in the room, my Grandmother told her that I was present. I walked over to her and I started crying immediately. She just grabbed my hand and I leaned forward and she said it, “Bless your bones the most my sweet girl.” 

   She passed away later that night. When I had my last child, I realized that he would not be blessed by her. It actually made me sad for him, though I know it doesn’t make his chances in life any better or worst. It was just a little bit of magical thinking. As soon as he was born and I held him close to me I had to say it to him. When my other kids came in the room, the first things they said to his was the blessing. The nurse that was present said it was the cutest thing she had ever heard.

    I don’t believe in an afterlife, though wouldn’t it be a nice thing? I could see my Great-Grandmother again and hear her voice and feel that her blessing and love would make anything instantly better. It’s a nice dream to think she is up in her little cloud house, looking down on her babies and loving every moment of it. I like to think that when I’m troubled or sad or scared, she is whispering it over and over again, like I do. Our voices overlapping each other.

“Bless your bones. Bless your bones.”


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