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My Sanctuary

4-17-09
I found a place that I forgot. A place that was always there when I needed to be alone. It’s in walking distance from my very own home.

When my grandpa passed away when I was six years old, in that lonely hospital bed, that had a window that ran from the floor to the ceiling showing the outside world of that unfortunate.
I didn’t know why we were rushing to the hospital that day. No one had said anything about it. It just came up. At that age, death was not a mystery for me. But for it to happen to someone I loved, was a mystery.

Before, when we used to just visit my grandpa in the hospital; my younger brother and I would play in the waiting room. I remembered I loved playing in there. With the little plastic rounded toys that always had me smiling for some strange reason, and the TV that we would watch cartoons on. I also remember, I’m not quit sure if it was the day he died, or the day before, or a whole week before, I don’t know exactly. But my parents had bought us all kids meals from McDonalds. Playing with the Tarzan toy, making him swing across the contraction thing it came with. If that day was the day he passed, I should have been ashamed of myself.
I ran through all of the adults in my way standing at the room door way. I jumped up on the hospital bed and kissed my grandpa’s cold cheek. Though, he didn’t wake up this time. He lied there so still. I didn’t understand, till a voice somewhere in the back said,
“He’s gone Brittany…” I walked back to my dad or some old adult behind me looking puzzled. I saw my older brother in the arms of my dad. My dad. The only one I didn’t see cry, except for me. But I knew he was sad, he had his head down low with his eyes closed tight.
I knew he died. But I didn’t seem to cry that day. I remember going over to my grandpa again and taking off his wedding ring. I’m still surprised to this day that I actually touched a dead body without even hesitating or flinching, but anyway. After I did so I thought this would make things better. So I ran over to my grandma and said,
“Here grandma. Keep his ring so you’ll always remember him.”
She shook as she held it and pushed it back into my small little hand and told me sternly with a shaky voice,
“No, keep it with him.”
I ran back to the bed feeling embarrassed that I did such a silly thing. I slipped the ring back on his finger, not really paying attention to which finger. Back then I didn’t really know which finger was the wedding finger so I selected a random one.
It was not till maybe a year or two after that I would retreat into my grandma’s room, or so we like to call, Grandma’s house. We’d call it that because our house was different from the other on the coli sack. Our house is an normal house, but has another small house attached to it. It used to be a sauna or a small bath house or something. But when we moved in, we did some house repairs and stuff. And that’s where my grandma and grandpa lived. With us.
I’d find so much alone time in there where I just cried about wishing that my grandpa hadn’t died. And I prayed that he didn’t have to leave when I needed him. My grandma needed him. We all needed him. But I hid away my sorrows from the world. I was always alone in the room. I’ d play the old keyboard, and small toys I owned at the time. But I’d just end up looking up at the wall. The wall that had many pictures of my family. Even him, my grandpa. I’d look and cry to myself. Then I’d find myself wanting to touch things that were his. I went over to the big antique dresser and pick up his vile of colon he got from Pakistan working as a Christian missionary. It would remind me of him so much even though he never really used it, he just kept it out for show I think. I could only think because I really don’t know why.
I remember lying on my grandma’s bed that they both used to share and just bursting out into rivers of tears crying,
“I miss grandpa! I miss grandpa!” my mom came in in concern and went to go get my dad and grandma, but when they came back, I just denied that I was crying for him and made up a stupid excuse to keep them from asking questions.

When I’d play that piano that was always either lying on the fireplace bricks or the small two foot bookcase, id sing in my pathetic seven or eight year old voice songs about him. Singing how I wanted him back and stuff. Kind of silly I know. But hey I was little.
No one was around. No one heard me. But he was always around. I knew he heard me. I sat in loneliness and cried, trying to find a better answer as to why I didn’t cry when he lied in front of me dead. All this time things have gotten worse when he left. My parents got divorced. My grandma started getting old and ill too fast. Everything started falling apart. The light that our family shared slowly began to die down.
Though family life seemed hard yet easy somehow. I loved my childhood. It taught me everything I needed to know for my future life to come. The struggles made me stronger in the end.

As I grew older, in my teen years. I had been accustomed to being in my grandma’s room. I’d switch nights in there with my brothers during the summer, because the other side of the house was really hot. That was my hideout. My room. My sanctuary. A place where I talked with him and God. A place where I was safe.
I remember the bed I slept in was pushed against the two large bookcases in the corner of the house to look like a room. I remember I had this glow in the dark chalk that was shaped like a moon. I would stand up on the bed and draw in the back of the bookcase. I drew two characters. God and I think it was an angel. My angel. I’d talk with them if I was alone, or when at night when my grandma came in to sleep I’d just move my mouth without even a whisper, just talking to them. Back then I had so much time to think, and be alone. No one knew.
Throughout the next years of my life, the start of middle school. I dwindled away from my sanctuary, but didn’t forget it. Life began to get difficult. I started to open my eyes to that. I didn’t like to see it and accept it. But I did.
I started to get into numerous fights with my mom. I didn’t know who to be at all. So many people that could of influenced me in the bad way. I tried not to let them get to me because I also wanted to be my own person, and at the time I thought I was. I was a different person, I pretended to care, so my mom wouldn’t see the monster I could be.
I needed my sanctuary more than ever at those times. But with my grandma, being less active and more tired and sleepy. I could never find myself completely alone anymore. Soon, my own bedroom became the replacement sanctuary. Yes, a room where anyone could lock themselves up and never come out. That was one of my problems back then. I got in trouble for always being locked up in there. Though I was barely a teen at the time, my earlier life had been all about being out in the world and being the girl you’ll always see happy; it was time that I had my own time. For myself. To think.

Pale white. Eyes closed tight. My light pink lips touch the coldness of your cheek. The imagination that you’d open your eyes to me. Why didn’t anyone tell me you were gone before I kissed your corps? Why didn’t anyone stop me?
Grandpa. So many times I’ve kissed you, but can’t remember. Why did the last one only come to mind?

That day at the hospital, my parents sent my younger brother and I to play in the waiting room. Near the little plastic table, was a screen door that led to the outside porch of the hospital. My parents and grandparent had brought back these black balloons. Either a lot or a little I can’t really remember all of them, only one.
My grandma told me,
“They’re balloons that you buy, and go outside and let them go up to the heavens.”
I remember, watching one black one float higher and higher into the sky. When I watched that balloon float up, I thought that the one I was staring at would be the one my grandpa would keep forever once it reached heaven. Sad thing about the truth is that once you know it, you can’t change it really. Balloons don’t keep floating up, gravity eventually pulls it down. Third grade taught me that. So everything I thought was false. My grandpa would never receive that balloon.

Seventh grade was when I think I completely forgot about my sanctuary. I had left it with all the troubles and memories of my past. Only to forget. No, I didn’t forget my tears, songs, memories, talks, no, I didn’t forget those. But I had forgotten what made that room so special. Why it was my sanctuary. Why I felt calm and content in there.

Last week on a Wednesday or Thursday, I went to heat up some food in the microwave. My grandma had been in the other house watching TV, so I was alone. What made me start thinking again was when I gazed at this little statue figure of an old grandpa holding a book and wearing his glasses at the tip of his nose smiling, as the bottom read, “Worlds Greatest Grandpa.” And boy was that true. We’ve had that statue for the longest time. For years in fact. I always loved looking at it; it gave me great comfort. Anyway, before my meal was done, I took out my cell phone to take a picture of it. The light in the background, and how the pool shimmered behind the glass slider doors. I had to take a picture. Though the counter it was on wasn’t close enough to the light, so I carried the statue toward the small dinning table my grandma had against the glass window. “Perfect.” I placed it down in several positions to get a good shot, and in the midst of it all, I came to realize something. I was alone again, in my sanctuary. I remembered it now.
I smiled warmly with the statue in my hand with care. Letting it stay by the window as I stood and walked back over to the microwave. I got a fork out of the kitchen’s drawer and began to walk out of the room not thinking. I passed through the hallway and took two steps into the living room of the other house. Then, I stopped myself. My mind was battling over whether I should stay and eat in my grandma’s room, or go to my computer desk. In the end, my grandma’s room won, so I turned off my MP3 player and moved my feet around and walked back into the room.
I heard it. I heard everything I use to hear before way back then. The screen door was open so I heard the sprinklers in the pool trickle on the waters surface, and the small breeze slither its way in-between the chimes our neighbor had hanging outside their backyard porch.
I sat at the table by the window, and appreciated all that has become. I kept smiling at the statue, all up until I got finished with my meal. I left the bowl there and walked over to the long counter with two sinks, one at each end. I was looking for something. I searched around the counter tops but couldn’t find it. Now, It was time to open the mirrors. Three mirrors to be exact. Though all connected, only two opened. The middle didn’t. I remembered what I used to do with the mirrors when I was little. I used to open the two sides and stick my head through them both closing it on me. I’d end up seeing hundreds of me staring this way and that. I smiled, as did all my twins. But this wasn’t what I was looking for. I kept them both open and saw the item in clear view in the mirror on the right. I closed the left one and grinned as I picked up the little vile of Pakistani colon. It was a strange colon bottle, small and had this orange sponge in it. I used to always mess with it, poking it and smelling it. Because it stored all the smiles and memories. I couldn’t resist.
I now remembered what I forgot. All those times I was lost, I could of retreated back to my grandma’s room. But I had forgotten what it truly meant to me. My sanctuary was my protection, my guardian, my memories, and a place I could call all my own.

I remembered.





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