I Love You This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 28, 2012
During my childhood, my grandmother was the one who tucked me in bed and never woke me up, unlike my mother, who would always wake me after eight hours yelling, “Get up! You’ve gotten enough sleep already!” My grandmother was an old lady, grey-haired, and wrinkly, with tiny, dark brown eyes that were so small it looked as if she couldn’t see through them.

At her apartment, the scents of Korean food filled the air. She hustled around the small kitchen, cleaning any speck of dirt. Her kitchen had to be perfect. Often my grandmother would feed me until a lead block settled in my stomach. “Eat more, eat more,” she urged. Then she would offer me butterscotch, mint or cinnamon candy. Whenever we went anywhere together, she would always bring already shelled peanuts without the thick, brown paper layer.

My grandmother’s heart was bursting with love. “Come visit me,” she would constantly say. And I would. Until I couldn’t anymore.

Noisome and bustling hospitals replaced the cozy azure apartment. I remember visiting her, her skin now yellowish and soft. I laid my head on her lap, covered with white sheets, and cried. My grandmother stroked my smooth hair as my salty tears poured out, drenching the sheets, making them translucent.

After the hospital, she moved to convalescent homes, one after another. A prisoner in another world, my grandmother no longer kept herself busy in the kitchen, but instead spent her time in bed, eating, thinking, and even crying.

I knew she was in pain.

Sometimes I was annoyed with her, wondering why she had done this, making us worry. Such selfish thoughts!

Finally the doctors prescribed morphine. One weekend, she asked to see my sister and me, but we didn’t go. Days later, afraid that we might never see her again, we visited. She was sleeping and breathing heavily. She looked at peace, and never looked more beautiful than that moment.

I prayed for her, leaving her in the hands of God, and again I could feel burning tears filling my eyes. After my prayer, I kissed my grandmother on her tender cheek and said good-bye; she never knew I was there.

She never knew I was there.

Her dreams of seeing me go to college and one day marry and have kids were crushed. Her last memories of me were not what she wanted. If only she knew I was there …

About nine hours after our visit, my grandmother died painlessly. I keep her with me always, glad she’s not suffering, sad I won’t be able to share my life with her. I know she’s safe in heaven watching over me, even watching me write this now. And I want to say what I never got to say that last time:

“I love you.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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