My grandma passed away in July of this year and I completed a small piece earlier this morning, putting together some of the thoughts swirling in my head following her death. I am still open to expanding on the thoughts below, and perhaps turning it into a short story. For now, I wanted to share it as it is.
Maybe to someone looking in from the outside, her favourite grandson seemed insensitive to her death. He was laughing and drinking with his family, people he knew from childhood and people he was meeting for the first time. He did the eulogy, but his voice shook from stage fright more than grief. Perhaps her death was only a vacation for him, a retreat to a tropical island. That was what onlookers thought, and the grandson started to question himself as well.
He had yet to shed tears. Maybe the death wasn’t real for him yet. He saw the body but reeled away from it, feeling his stomach turn as he viewed Grandma’s face. She seemed so much smaller, shriveled. Her skin wrapped around her bones like plastic wrap.
The grandson felt his stomach turn again as he entered Grandma’s room. He looked to the bed, where his grandma usually laid. Then he looked to the couch beside, where he spent hours talking and watching television with Grandma whenever he visited. The room was familiar and carried so many good memories, yet the grandson couldn’t bring himself to enter it. Her presence still lingered here, adding weight to the air ahead of him. She threatened to suffocate him.
The grandson felt like something malevolent lingered here now, a perversion of the woman he loved. His dad suggested he sleep in her room, like he used to when he was a child. That suggestion was ignored and the grandson continued avoiding the room, feeling like something was lying in wait for him there.
Her death stayed with him when he returned across the sea. One of his favourite songs became a cruel reminder. “Grandma’s Hands” was now a reverse lullaby- threatening to make him cry when its words rang out.
He had a bookmark with her face on it, and a prayer dedicated to her memory. It was the only one he’d used since the funeral, finding comfort in the picture of his grandma as he remembered: smiling and healthy. Sometimes it was just another bookmark, with its content forgotten by the user and scrutinized by strangers on the bus. Other times, the bookmark was his own talisman, giving him access to a multitude of good memories from his childhood.