Pardon me if my sentences are too long and seem to go nowhere dead-slow. I’m still trying to get the hang of writing and I’ve recently read Post Office by Bukowski. I might do away with structure and grammar in the name of accurately laying down my stream of thoughts into words.
I’ll start right from the middle of this story. I believe this is called in media res. On a rather sunny day in late may 2009 I was skyping with my ex. My granny on my mother’s side was not precisely sick but she needed to go under the knife and it was a complicated procedure. As the conversation with Andrea unfolded she successfully calmed my fears that something would go wrong. Little did I know that the joke was on me. As I was merrily talking to her and inquiring about her current life, my granny was dying on the other side of the planet, fading away during a surgery she didn’t want, and arguably didn’t need. She decided to go through with it for our sake. See, she had always lived in another country, away from us. My mom is her only daughter and moved to another country to study, met my dad there and they got married and moved to yet another country. My dad’s. Mine. Ours. So we were used to seeing grandma every 2 years or so, either by traveling ourselves or she would visit. She never missed any of my “big” achievements. She was there for my baptism, when I graduated from high school, and from my university graduation as well. One of the very last times I spoke to her was before I moved halfway across the world to Germany. That’s when I told her that she should consider the surgery, because otherwise it would be too much of a risk to get on an airplane and her options for seeing her daughter and grandkids would be limited.
When she died I was in my dorm room, a 12-hour-flight away and with absolutely no money to just get a ticket and go be with my family. It was extremely hard. I had to accept the fact that Skype was the only connection to my family, and that was OK under normal circumstances, but goddammit grandma had just died. Fuck normal. I had to wait until I flew home for Christmas to actually grieve. To actually look at my mom in the eyes and tell her that I was sorry, that I miss grandma a shitload and actually cry for the first time. It didn’t happen automatically at the airport. It took me about 2 weeks, until we were all together, with uncles, aunts, cousins and pretty much everyone from my dad’s side of the family. It came on the very last day of 2009, as we were making the huge dinner and celebrating and having excessive amounts of scotch. I looked at my mom and saw this longing, this weight on her shoulders. It was the last day of the year when she lost her mom. I broke down and unloaded all my accumulated grief in a 2-minute-burst of I’m-sorry-I-wasn’t-here-for-you’s. We cried, we hugged and kissed. It was done. Time to pick the pieces again and move on.
That experience taught me to lock up my feelings until they were needed. It’s a valuable lesson that I hadn’t learned. And I am thankful for it, because as hard as that was, this year has kicked me right in the nuts twice.
February 18th 2013, 5:30 am here, midnight there, WhatsApp message, can only be bad news. My sister: “Luis, grandpa didn’t make it”. One day before her birthday. On the 49th day of the year. 228 days have passed by. I haven’t cried for him yet. He who was the sole reason I’m called Luis. He who always had a joke ready for any opportunity. He who was so wise. He whom I never got to tell that I loved and admired him so much. The only thing I feel is an emptiness, a void. I don’t even have a picture of him, or of my grandma for that matter. I have just my memory. That day I called my dad and told him that I was sorry I couldn’t be there, again. I guess I’ll have to wait until the very last day of the year, or when I see my grandma, to break down and grieve some. It sucks.
It doesn’t end there. Like I said, 2013 is kicking my hard. Just 2 weeks ago as I was sitting down in my office to start the day I got a WhatsApp message from my mom. Dammit! Not again!
Mom: “Your uncle had a fulminating heart attack last night”
Me: “Metaphorically or literally?” (oh hopeful me)
I called my cousin and talked with her and my grandpa (mom’s side, might be hard to follow) but I just had platitudes. Utterly empty phrases. “This sucks”. “Hang in there”. “Take the lead and pick the family up”. I didn’t feel shit. I still don’t.
I am numb.
I can’t deal with locking shit up twice in the same year, so my uncle has to go unmourned until I get my grandpa out. I only have place to mourn one person at a time. It sounds horrible. I hope none of you has to find about exactly how many people you can mourn at the same time. I feel to exhausted to even remember how it was the last time I saw my uncle. It must’ve been 7 years ago.
2013 please, I beg of you, leave it at this. I have too much to catch up when I see my family again this December. Gimme a break.
From every hardship one learns something. Time might be the best medicine, but distance apparently is the best painkiller.
Feel free to share stories of loss in the comments.
Don’t tell me you’re sorry for my losses. I’d appreciate it but I can’t be grateful about it. Not until I have had my moment of grief with my family.