Memoir

December 16, 2011
By
Lunch time was over and it was time for me to go back to class, which just so happened to be my least favorite class of the day; Health with Mrs. Newt. I hated that health class, everything about it made it almost impossible to sit through, but this week it was different, this was the week that a representative from Planned Parenthood would come to preach to us about “Safe Sex” and “Abstinence” and other things that this freshman class could care less about. The only thing we had to look forward to on this week was the last day, when the representative would pick a member of the class to stand at the front of the room in front of everyone and demonstrate how to properly put a condom on a fake penis, an act that was sure to be one of the most awkward, yet funniest things we would experience in this class, and today was that day.
I sat through the class bored out of my mind, just waiting for the last fifteen minutes of class to roll around so the “awkward-fest” could begin, but the class went by incredibly slowly as usual and I knew that those fifteen minutes weren’t coming anytime soon. I continued to sit at my desk with my head down trying to keep from falling asleep when I noticed my phone begin to vibrate; someone was calling me. Of course I couldn’t answer it, but I carefully sneaked it out of my pocket to check who it was. It was my mother. Oh no big deal, I thought, she probably thinks I’m still on my lunch break, I’ll call her when class is done. I put the phone back in my pocket and laid my head back down on my desk when suddenly my phone began vibrating once more; it was my mother again. Geez, it must be pretty important, I thought, but I still ignored the call and continued with my boredom. At last my phone stopped vibrating. About ten minutes went by when an office aid came through the door with a note for Mrs. Newt to deliver to one of the students. Generally these notes meant that someone was either in trouble and they needed to go see the principle, or they had some sort of appointment and they were being excused from class. I had never been given one of those slips with my name on it. Mrs. Newt read the slip and walked it over to my desk. This time it had my name on it; instantly my body became hot with an intense feeling of nerves. The note was from my mother and it said for me to call her on her cell phone. I took the note and walked out into the hall so I could call my mom. Before the first ring could even end she answered and told me that she would be picking me up from school now, and that I was to go to my uncle’s house to say good bye to my dad because he was going to Mexico with two of his brothers. At that moment I knew exactly what was going on and I knew it was serious. I hung up the phone, walked back into the room right when the Planned Parenthood representative was picking someone from the class, grabbed my things and left. I walked to the front of the school to meet my mom feeling cold, but not the slightest bit confused.
My Grandmother who lived in Mexico had been sick for quite some time now. A combination of old age, severe diabetes, and a number of bladder and kidney infections had been slowly eating away at her. My parents had already been forced to fly over there twice that year for emergencies when my grandma had been extremely sick and they needed to be by her side; each time they left they said she was doing much better and assured us that she would be okay. But the thought never left my family’s mind that my grandmother’s time on this earth might be slowly coming to an end.
Her health had gotten so bad that she had fallen into a coma and had to be rushed over to the hospital via helicopter. My dad and his brothers, who were able to make the trip, knew they had to go be with her as soon as possible because this could actually be it. Their plan was to drive to Tijuana and catch a plane from there to fly directly to the city where she had been hospitalized; this was the only choice they had. My whole family was to gather at my uncle’s house to say goodbye to the ones who were leaving and send their best wishes and prayers.
We arrived at my uncle’s house where everyone else had already arrived and had gathered in their tiny living room. Everyone was silent the air was thick with a sense of unease. I was numb, I knew how serious this was and how for the first time in my life someone close to me might actually die, but I was numb. I watched my aunts and uncles cry. They were overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and helplessness. Their status in this country prevented them from traveling legally outside the U.S to see their mother who was on her death bed. That thought alone should’ve made me break out in tears, but I remained numb, I felt cold and distant inside, none of this felt real to me.
The time came for my dad and his brothers to leave. Everyone embraced them, prayed and cried, but I just gave each of my uncles a hug and gave my dad a kiss on the cheek, telling him to drive safe as if he was only going on a business trip for the weekend. My dad and uncles left and we all just sat around in that small living room quiet, not knowing what to do next. Really, there was nothing left to do, everything was completely out of our control. So we all just sat there silently, looking at one another but not saying a word, trying as hard as we could not to focus on the severity of the situation. An hour went by and finally my mother decided we had sat through enough silence and it was time for us to go home. We said good bye to the family and left my uncle’s house to head back home.
We were only a couple blocks from home when my mother’s phone began ringing, signifying she had just received a new text message. Who is it? She said while I quickly dug through her purse, struggling to find her phone amongst the clutter. The message was from my aunt in Mexico who had been periodically sending messages to the family letting us know about the current condition of my grandmother. I told my mom who it was and she asked me to read her the message since she was driving and couldn’t read it herself. I opened up the phone and read the message aloud to her. In Spanish it read: The doctors did all that they could, but her condition kept getting worse, it seems as though her body couldn’t withstand any more pain, she passed away. What! My mother screamed. She slammed on the breaks and pulled the car over, she snatched the phone out of my hands and read the message herself. I remained speechless and cold until she finished reading the message aloud and I finally had a chance to process what I had just read and heard. Immediately my eyes welled up with tears to the point where I felt as though my eyes would burst out of my head. I completely broke down, never in my life had I ever cried like I did that day on the side of the road in the car with my mother. My body felt like it was on fire, I felt sick to my stomach. I fought to catch my breath, but no matter how hard I tried I kept gasping for breath as if I was choking. Every part of my body shut down except for my eyes, which couldn’t stop releasing tears. At last all the emotions I hadn’t felt before were finally being unleashed and they overwhelmed me. My mother and I stayed in the car on the side of the road, crying, until my mom’s phone began to ring again; this time it was a call. It was from my aunt whose house we were just at, she wanted to know if we had heard the news. Yes I know, my mother sobbed, wiping the tears from her face. Okay, okay we’ll be there in a bit. She hung up the phone, tears still streaming down her face. I too kept crying. I just kept crying and crying, it was all I could do. My grandmother had just died and my whole world had been shattered. For the very first time in my life someone close to me, someone that I genuinely cared for, had died and no matter what I did she was gone forever.
We drove home to pick up my brother who had just gotten home from work, he still did not know. I ran out of the car, opened the front door and immediately ran up to my room and locked the door. My mother slowly walked into my brother’s room to let him know what had happened. No! I heard him shout. No! Then he too broke down and cried like he had never cried before in his life. My mother held him tight while he sobbed on her shoulder. I walked into the room and ran into their arms and cried along with them. We all felt the exact same pain at that moment and we were all utterly crushed. After what seemed like hours of crying in each other’s arms we managed to get ourselves together enough to get into the car and drive back to my uncle’s house to be with our family and mourn the death of my grandmother together.
We arrived at the house and there wasn’t a single person in the room who wasn’t crying, one of my uncles was crying on the phone as he talked to my dad who still hadn’t even reached Los Angeles when they received the news. It killed me to think of the pain they were feeling. I kept on crying, we all did.
We spent the rest of the day at my uncle’s house, crying some more and reminiscing about the days when my grandmother lived, sharing all the great memories we had of this wonderful caring woman. We took time to pull away from all the sadness and smile a bit, thinking about all of the magnificent moments spent with my grandmother, the jokes she used to tell, the food she used to cook. I managed to pull out every memory of my grandmother I had and share them with my family as an attempt to put a smile on all the faces that had been stricken with sorrow.
This January eleventh it will have been three years since the death of my grandmother and the saddest day of my life. I can’t say that after this day I understand death from having experienced it, but I can say that I accept it. I know now that the loss of a loved one creates the most intense feeling of sadness that one will ever experience, but the loss will also spark the fondest memories and stories of that loved one who you lost and allow their spirit to live on through the ones they have left behind.





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