Share: A difficult time in your life
In January 2003 we lost my grandmother. She had tied up all of the loose ends, signing the necessary paperwork with her doctor so that he could not release any information to us. She knew that she was dying, and she just wanted to live out the remainder of her life as if nothing was different…
But we all knew life was different. She had been progressively getting more and more sickly, and then very forgetful, and then very weak. It was an odd thing for me to witness, as my grandmother had been my primary caretaker all my life.
I remember the day it happened. It was a Wednesday, the 22nd. I had received a message from the front office not to ride the school bus home, that one of my aunts would pick me up.
I waited out in front of the school for my aunt. All of the buses left. The bustle of parents picking up their kids dissipated. The teachers went back to their classrooms. I was standing in front of the school by myself.
It was getting rather cold, so I walked across the street to my mom’s cousin’s house. I asked if I could call somebody because I thought my aunt had forgotten about me. This particular relative has always been a bit eclectic and odd, but on this day she was acting even stranger. She didn’t want me to call anyone, my aunt would be along to get me real soon.
Finally my aunt showed up, with my younger brother and older cousin in tow, as well as her kids. She was suspiciously quiet the entire ride. She took us to my mom’s older sister’s house, and whispered to her.
The whole way there, I got the distinct feeling that something was wrong. As we turned the final corner to the house, my aunt reached back behind her seat for my older cousin’s hand. Then I knew. I knew.
The driveway was flooded with cars.
We got out and ran in. I think I was already crying, and I was asking over and over again where my grandmother was. My uncle (husband to the aunt who picked us up), had this vacant look on his face, rimmed red around his eyes and nose.
We sat on the linoleum tile floor of the walkway from the kitchen to the back bedroom, where my grandmother’s room had been. They told us, all of us grandkids that were there. My older cousin called her brother. He thought she was joking.
It was awful. I sat there, teeth clacking together as if I was standing naked in a blizzard, mindlessly shredding tissues in my lap, crying. I huddled up with my brother, and another cousin.
My mom made my brother and me go to school the next day. I told my mom I couldn’t do it. I got to school late since we’d stayed at my aunt’s, and walked into Spanish class. We were supposed to be writing entries in our journals. I sat with my head close to my paper, my hair all in my face, hiding my tears. One of my friends spoke to the teacher and took me to the rest room. I stayed there for most of the period after she left.
I remember the funeral. After everyone had filed out they gave my family one last opportunity to be with my grandmother before closing the casket and putting it in the hearse. I stood rooted to the ground, I couldn’t move. I literally could not move, my body was in such shock. My uncle and oldest cousin’s husband had to physically carry me out of the funeral home to the car.
After my grandmother’s death, my mom’s siblings started fighting like rabid animals. The glue that held our family together was gone. My mom’s youngest brother wanted everything thrown away. My mom’s two sisters fought over what items of my grandmother’s they wanted. Feelings got hurt, and items went missing. Our house was ransacked once when we were gone. The ugliness came out, and it has not really disappeared in the decade since.