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Mourning After This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   My grandmother died on a Wednesday night, seated in her armchair. She called out to my grandfather, and he turned, pulled the emergency cord that dangles in the corner of their living room, then wheeled over to her in a panic. Her lips moved, he said; he was sure she was praying. By Thursday night my mother, father, and I had flown out to Colorado, our emotions streaming behind the plane the entire two thousand miles. The chair had disappeared from the living room by the time we arrived, but I could still see it, and the red cord dangling helplessly on the wall. I could see the tears in my grandfather's eyes as he looked at the empty square on the floor.

I went with my aunt to the wake. The chapel of the funeral home was silent, empty, and cold. The chandeliers cast spidery shadows on the walls and the casket seemed small and foreign. We walked slowly to it, stopping and spending a dutiful moment looking, before retreating to the dark, hard benches.

"It's freezing in here," my aunt whispered, rubbing her arms. I glanced at the open coffin, looked quickly away and answered, "There's probably a reason to keep it cold." She caught my eye, and together we burst into laughter, guiltily choking behind our hands, trying hard to stifle the sound, to breathe, to live through the moment.

The moment passed. A month has passed, four weeks in which I feel something huge and drastic should have happened. I just haven't figured out what that something is yet. There's a part of me, deep down, that is afraid I never will. I keep repeating, "No one close to me has ever died," and then adding, hastily, "before." But even that correction doesn't change the novelty of the situation. The truth is that I don't have a clue what to feel; though grief would be appropriate, I suppose.

When I'm not trying, it hits me. Like today: sitting at my desk, my homework spread before me, I look up and notice the little bar of soap she gave me two summers ago, still in its box, lying on my windowsill. I want to smell its perfume, to touch its smoothness, to validate its reality. It still gives off a faint scent of honey, but when I touch it the outside comes off, gooey in my hand. I try to wipe it off on my pants, but its stickiness clings to my fingers, tying me to the here-and-now - to reality.

Then, for the first time, I began to realize that nothing momentous will happen. There will be no hysterical grief, nor any terrible longing. How can there be, when she hasn't left me? It's just as my then-five-year-old cousin said, the day before the funeral: "Granma isn't dead," she told her mom, "She's in our hearts."

It took her a day to realize what I have only begun to realize. c


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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