When you hear the news, you begin hoping the doctors are wrong. You rush home from work while making bets with God. Just another day, month, year, please, anything. I’ll wash myself in my regrets and make up for them. You’re told a few months are left and for awhile you think it will pass. That the doctors are wrong and you’ll see her walk again. You’ll get to enjoy those last precious moments outside in the world with her and not waste them in silence at a hospital bedside. You begin lying to yourself, but it’s never enough because you’re sitting bedside to the truth. That’s when you realize how stuck you really are. I am a blank page with eraser marks all over. You face Death even though it scares you, ready to throw a punch, but all you send him are secret winks with her or kisses on cheeks and foreheads.
We all laid there in dull hospital chairs as shadows were forming all around us. We filled the room with laughter as her story was passed around like ghost stories at a campfire. You remember seeing the look on her face as she laid there, listening silently on the bed while her soul chuckled. I always thought laughter could cure anything. Face it all with a smile. But the shadows are still there and soon the laughter dies away. I spent too much time in tears. Vampires nipped at her fingers and the machines were nothing but monitors of a heart beat counting down. Drip, drip, drip. There’s the alarm, where are they? In those moments it almost becomes too much. Family leaves the room to cry then comes back in to tell you how handsome you’ve become. You’ve become such a man. Grown past all the lies I’ve told and the same ones fed to me as a child.
Despierta, estoy aqui. Wake up, I’m here. Mira. Look. Te quiero mucho. I love you. Te quiero mucho Abuelita.
Rain fell the first day and made me feel at home. Ironic, was it not, that when I first walked in nothing was there? In the end it all becomes nothing. Skin and bones will dissolve to become the atoms that created us. All of our grand designs are wasted on a concept man created to control themselves.
Veni aqui. Come here. Dame un beso. Give me a kiss. Que lindo eres mi nieto. Look how pretty you are my grandson. Te quiero mucho. I love you. Te quiero mucho Abuelita.
We remember the wedding in the valley, taco trucks in the driveway and how she danced to a mariachi band with her sister and too much tequila in her bloodstream. Drip, drip, drip. It’s all different now. It always has been. Drugs that hide the pain instead of alcohol. Paralyzing tumors instead of dancing. Nobody ever talked about the silence that filled the room. How the time spent by her side felt like time that was wasted in silence even though you know it’s not a waste at all. There’s the alarm. Where are they? It all becomes a haze. You hear static and conversation come through the intercom. We’re sorry, it’s a problem with the system. It can’t be fixed. She can’t be fixed.
In all my honesty, I was begging for lies. Hand gripped hand to show that there’s still life hidden beneath. I have to stay, but I have to go. I have to stop myself. I have to stop moving forward. Family comes and goes. It gets better then it gets worse. Everything is left in suspended animation. That’s when it all changes.
It starts when they get cold and nothing helps. Their breath becomes slower and they look at everything with a gaze of wonder. She is surrounded by her daughters and son. Last minute prayers are pleaded to no one in particular. Please, just one more day. Something, anything. You know it will be over soon, but nothing prepares you for it. She is surrounded by her daughters and son. You know that this last moment is important. That she is happy and at peace, even if you’re not. She is surrounded by her family.
Que linda, a donde vamos?
Then eyes close. Breath crawls. Sleep passes. Everything fades. At the viewing and funeral those with the words you lack say she’s at peace now, but you immediately know different because none of that matters to you. She’s gone and everything breaks or is already broken. You can’t even remember what the word peace stood for. All you know is now gone and all you’re left with is Death and all of his friends. You continue moving forward because that’s all you can do. Days become weeks that become months. Finally, when Spring comes and all the flowers around you somehow bloom a little bigger and brighter, you begin to accept she’s at peace and maybe even watching over you. You realize you can still tell her all the stories of your day and she’ll listen intently as always. Only now her laughter is replaced by the wind, the rain her tears, and the sun her smile. And you know there is life in death even if you don’t understand it.
Que linda. Te quiero mucho Abuelita.