Bucket Full of Water

November 16, 2008
The scorching summer sun beat down on my back as I ambled back toward my cabin. Out of habit, I stepped into the bucket of water placed strategically near the screechy screen door. My feet weren’t wet, so there was really no need to wash off the sand that usually enveloped them like nature’s own slippers. I had just changed the water in the bucket that morning, so it was fresh and relatively clear, but when I stepped in, it returned to its usual murky state. I watched as the sand settled to the bottom of the bucket, restoring the water to its naturally clear form. The smell of bleu cheese burgers wafted through the door of my cabin along the scarce breeze, and my eyes’ own salt water mixed with the fresh from the lake in the bucket. I had been ready for this; I knew the smells and sights of White Lake would immediately remind me of her, but nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotion that nearly drowned me.

My Grandma Bean had been coming to White Lake since before my mother was born. It was her one and only vacation from her time consuming job of running a dry-cleaning chain. Every year, Grandma Bean, Grandpa, Auntie Rene and company, and my mom and company would drive about three hours to a week in paradise. As soon as we arrived, Grandma Bean would make us (or at least me) bleu cheese burgers. We were lucky that she let us come, my mom always said. I knew that there was no other way Grandma Bean would rather have it.

About a year ago, Grandma Bean started to get sick. She couldn’t eat much of her own amazing food, and yet she still managed to cook it just as well. It became harder and harder for her to move around. She went to the doctor, and they immediately hospitalized her. Within a day, she was in a coma. Her liver was failing, and because of this, the normal level of ammonia of about six skyrocketed to about six hundred. She woke up a couple of days later, unable to breath on her own.

My parents did not allow me to see my dying Grandma and remember her with all of the tubes and needles. They instead wanted me to remember her as the lively soul she used to be. I was devastated that I could not comfort her in the same way she used to comfort me. As some form of consolation, I drew her a picture of the place she loved so much. When she saw it, she smiled for the first time in a month, and the last time of her life.

I had always known my Grandma did not want to be on life support. She had told my mom and I over and over during her life. She did not want machines supporting her. If she was going to go, she would go naturally. I imagine it was one of the hardest decisions my Grandpa and mom ever had to make, but we honored Grandma Bean’s wishes.

I will forever remember the day I was told. I felt a pang in my heart similar to what I would expect electric shock to feel like. It was the day before eight grade started, and I cried myself to sleep that night. I couldn’t understand how someone so young and innocent could leave the earth so suddenly and unfairly. She was only 59 years old.

The water in the bucket became cloudier as more salt water mixed with the fresh. As the last tear rolled down my face, it began to clear, becoming translucent once again. I realized that the memory and the sadness would always be inside me, and that it would occasionally resurface, but never dissolve completely. But when the sadness sank to the bottom, the countless happy memories would reign once again. I stepped out of the now transparent water, the innumerable happy memories flooding my brain. I looked back at the bucket of water, smiling, and opened the screen door; the screeching sound announcing my arrival to the rest of my family. I sat down at the kitchen table and sank my teeth into a bleu cheese burger. It was good, but not as good as Grandma Bean’s.

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