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Tears for Granny
We had known Granny had cancer for months so it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. What was most surprising was probably that that day of all days, the day we were going to visit her hours away in South Carolina was the day it happened.
It had been a relatively normal day. I was fairly happy, but not particularly looking forward to visiting Granny and spending eight hours in a car, but I had to. She could die any day. When my mom picked me up from school, I was surprised to see my normally rambunctious younger sister quiet for once in her life, her eyes surrounded by a red rim as if she had been crying. Mom was looking out the windshield trying not to meet my eyes, and my brother was staring back at me as if he expected me to burst into flames at any moment.
“Your grandmother, your father’s mom, passed away today,” Mom said, her voice breaking. Passed away as if saying that instead of died would make it easier to handle.
“Oh,” I said as I had simply been corrected on my word choice. “No, you need to use verbose not talkative, Alex.” “Oh.” My expression remained emotionless, but a thousand thoughts raced through my head.
This is sad.
Never expected the cancer to win.
Too bad we didn’t go earlier.
But I didn’t cry. Not once. And the whole time I wasn’t crying I was thinking I should cry.
My mom noticed and asked if I was going to. I told her I wasn’t and knew it to be true, at least for the moment. I didn’t really feel like crying and I didn’t know why. “Your brother and sister cried. She’s dead you know. You’ll never see her again.” As if I didn’t know, but I couldn’t cry. My body refused to register the fact that she was dead.
The next few days weren’t spent in a depression stage like I felt they should be, at least, not for me. I went through each day normally. Nobody would have guessed what happened. Not even my closest friends. I felt like I should say something, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. At the time I told myself it wasn’t important.
The week following Granny’s death, we went to South Carolina for the funeral. My dad said it would hit me then, it always hits you then, but it didn’t. I still didn’t cry. I just stood by the graveside waiting for the funeral to end, not once shedding a tear.
Once while I was up in South Carolina, my friend texted me and asked why I wasn’t at school. I just said “family matters.” I thought then that I just didn’t want anyone to know—it wasn’t their business after all—but I sense now that I was in denial and replying “My grandmother died” would have made it far too real, much more than I wanted it to be.
For almost an entire year, I barely thought about her, but when I did, I always thought I should have cried. Maybe I’ll cry today. But I never did. And one day, I figured I never was going to cry. That was until the summer of 20098, two months before the anniversary of her death.
It was July 17th. I was attending a three week long summer camp at the state university. One of our floormates, had to leave a week early. There were tears from most people, but I didn’t cry just as I hadn’t when Granny died.
In our room, my roommate, asked me how I couldn’t cry. “I’m not a crying person,” I said carefully. “I didn’t cry when my great-aunt died—granted I wasn’t close to her and I was only five—and I didn’t cry when my—” I paused. I wasn’t sure I could say it. “I didn’t cry when my grandmother died.” I said, my voice breaking at “cry.”
Lee left the room, but on her way out she said, “Just stop.” I wasn’t sure if this was because I wasn’t crying about Peryn or if it was because I hadn’t cried because of Granny, but either way I felt horrible.
I wanted to go talk to someone, but I couldn’t—we had study time. No talking for an entire hour. But I could express myself with words. When I finished my homework, I began writing a poem about how awful I felt for not crying and how awful of a granddaughter I was. I felt horrible about how I had showed so little emotion, yet liberated as I wrote, and halfway through, I cried. For the first time I cried about Granny. But I was a year too late and I felt it didn’t count.
When study hour was over, I nabbed a shower as soon as possible, trying to hide my tears. The entire time I was crying and I the emotion I should have felt all those months ago, only worse. Much worse. The hole that would have been there then seemed to be twice as big as it should be. The tears came twice as fast as they should have. It was the emotion of 10 months dumped out on me in one night and I could barely take it.
I finished up my shower just in time for movie time. I was trying not to cry, but I couldn’t help it. I Hoped it would help if I showed my poem to my friend Kelsey. She told me it was both sad and good. I hoped she didn’t mean sad that I didn’t cry, but sad about what happened to Granny. Showing her the poem helped, I felt like a 1,000 pounds had been lifted off my chest, but I couldn’t help the occasional tear that slid down my cheek during Lady and the Tramp.
When the movie was over I went to Kelsey’s room. “Kelsey, am I a bad person for not crying for my grandmother for a year?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear the answer, though.
“You’re not, it’s just, sometimes, it takes you a while to realize and accept that she’s really gone. You were just in shock.” And I knew she was right and she hugged me and I cried, knowing everything was okay.