It was cold today. The fluffy snowflakes floated to the asphalt like feathers. Christmas music was on every radio in the country, belting out Andy Williams and Mariah Carey tunes. It was December 15th, and just a few weeks before Christmas, it was a great time to be alive with the family. I woke up and was eager to start my day. I had a lot of exciting things on my schedule.
10 A.M.- Go to the mall with my dad. Buy Christmas presents for my grandparents. My dad gets a call from my grandfather. We keep shopping, everything is fine. We decide to wait to get my grandparents’ presents.
11 A.M.- Drive to Wal-Mart. Meet the quartet at the front of the store for the bell ringing. The high school marching band volunteered to help the Kiwanis Club raise money by playing Christmas carols for a few hours outside the doors. The local news came and took our picture. We were successful in raising a lot of donations.
12 P.M.- My dad drives me to driver’s training for my test. I am going to test in for my permit today. I take the test and everything goes smooth.
2 P.M.- I drive home with my pink certificate signed by the teacher and park halfway in the grass. My teacher remarks that I need to work on parking. My dad, just finishing up yard work, stares and chuckles. He leads me into the house.
2:15 P.M.- I am eating potato chips. My dad finishes up his work. He comes in to talk to me.
I was. The potato chips tasted salty and sweet. I was freezing from the weather outside but I drank cold water anyway.
“Are we visiting her today?” (She had been in rehabilitation for a broken shoulder for that entire fall)
“No- your grandmother passed away today.”
Silence. My heartstrings could have snapped. Pressure that had been building up for months inside of me, like a guitar string snapping inside my chest. The potato chips in my mouth tasted metallic.
When did she die?
This morning? At Wal-Mart?
No. At the mall.
The phonecall? You didn’t say anything.
I didn’t want to stress you out.
I want to be left alone.
My father left me to go take a shower. My lungs stung, my eyes stung, my legs were jelly legs wobbling down the hallway. My blood vessels burst, and blood gushed out of both of my nostrils until I was in a blood bath. It didn’t matter. Nothing hurt more in this moment than catching the blood. My throbbing temples, jelly legs, the bloodbath on my face and shirt. I didn’t know that last night’s phone call would be the last conversation I ever had with my grandmother. I didn’t know that “see you tomorrow” would end up being a lie. I wasn’t aware at the time that her tired voice wasn’t because she just recently got hospitalized that night from dialysis.
She was tired.
She fell in the summer and broke her shoulder. Her kidneys were failing, working at about 17% functionality. Her hair was gone and her fingernails snapped and she was black and blue all over. But at least she was alive. She was put into the local hospital expecting a cast and a few week’s stay. Instead she never went back home. They screwed her bones together and gave her a sling. She developed bed sores and weak bones, the more she stayed in that bed, the worse she got.
I spent my birthday party in the hospital, before my first homecoming dance. Thanksgiving I spent inside the rehab center, eating cold turkey and bland mash potatoes. Originally she was supposed to go home, but the day before, the nurses decided she wasn’t well enough. Depression lingered in the air. Patients screamed and moaned and complained about their pain. The light went out in my grandmother’s eyes. We talked about electric wheelchairs, moving a hospital bed into her house. She drank strawberry Nepro out of a straw and chewed ice cubes.
Two weeks before Christmas, they said she was well enough to go home. She was so excited to hear that she could come home for Christmas. For the first time that season I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She went to dialysis that week, everything was fine. She was checked by all 17 doctors. She was fine. She was monitored and probed and questioned. She went into dialysis December 14, 2016, and she was not fine. I still don’t know what it was. They said a heart attack, a blood clot, bad kidneys. Her diabetes finally killed her. It had sucked the soul out of her, each body part at a time, until there was nothing of her left.