My grandma died a couple of weeks ago. My sister broke the news, calling me in the middle of the day. “Are you at work?” she asked. “Sorry to call you at work. You know what happened.” I did know. A year ago my aunt—my grandma’s only daughter—died. “Are you at work?” my sister had asked then.
Last Friday while passing my neighbors on the doorstep, I tell them what happened. “Ella murió de dolor de corazón,” one murmurs. She died of heartbreak.
A discarded product of my parents’ divorce—too naïve to raise two daughters unaccompanied, too angry to raise them as a pair—I lived with my aunt and grandma.
My grandma hand-washed our socks, scrubbing until they looked brand new. My aunt hummed to herself in the car. They both took us to Disneyland. They prodded and pestered us, edging us toward womanhood until our parents decided they were ready. And then they stepped back—accepting this independence, proceeded with their own lives, all of us becoming mired in our histories, all of us becoming islands.
When my aunt died the enormous weight of her own echoing fear and anger at her failing physical form bore down on me.
My grandma’s death yields confusion. I find myself untethered without knowing exactly what I was tethered to in the first place.
I do know my grandma and aunt were proud of me in a way that will never be replicated, a pride born from a place I will not be able to rebuild. A place with blueprints half-plotted, a language to which I am illiterate, this unremarkable skillset wholly untaught.
I scrub my own socks now, as my grandmother did, but despite the bleach I use, despite the temperature, despite the rawness of my hands and the embedded lines on my knees from kneeling on the tile in front of my bathtub, they still look gray.
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I was raised on british techno, japanese horror movies, and caffeine. Who I am is not a mystery in that context.
Someone I’m very close to died Tuesday, and I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it. It seems to come in waves. I will be fine and thinking clearly and working and accepting the fate of the universe, and then suddenly I feel that a void is steadily drawing me into the earth and I have no choice but to surrender to the emptiness—unmoving—for as long as my soul allows.
I am tired, and each day I wonder how I will handle this new information. Each hour that answer is different. I wonder how long these new sensations will last—though, I am hesitant to broach that subject—as I am not sure if they have even begun
I love reading your writing and thoughts on thoughts, can you do more plz? :)
Mais oui, mon ami! Stayed tuned…
In which I spend too much time wondering what would exist if the universe didn’t. Would it be nothing? What would nothing look like?
Wandered into a bookstore today and had an overwhelming desire to read. This proceeded an earlier bout of nostalgia. And that proceeded an interesting turn of events—what should have been wonderful, validating—that I’m perhaps not feeling ready for. And so I am trying to hide. In the past. In this bookstore. In fiction; of my own making and someone else’s. Picked up a Joan Didion book, devoid of the usual intellectual shame. Stood right there in the fiction and literature aisle between Cunningham and Eggers and everyone. And I didn’t give a damn who saw me.
And then I stopped. Maybe it was enough just to read the back covers. To reassure myself the authors of my past were indeed still there, alphabetically, in fact. The words were still printed on each page (and some of those pages were numbered.) To marvel at the empty parking lot and remark to myself that “no one reads anymore” and to merge—with a quick glance at my blind spot, back into reality.