Gran's House | Teen Ink

Gran's House

May 25, 2018
By wolfvomit PLATINUM, Jacksonville, Florida
wolfvomit PLATINUM, Jacksonville, Florida
25 articles 0 photos 34 comments

Favorite Quote:
“don’t fall slave to the serpent’s tongue”

It was crowded and everyone was saying their “I love you” ‘s and flashed pained smiles. No one was crying. Strained laughter rung out through each corner of this place. I couldn’t find Gran so I stayed close to Mom, holding her hand so tight I could feel the energy running through our bodies. Everyone came together and hugged and everyone was wearing black, even me though I wasn’t quite sure why. I knew I wasn’t going to the funeral.  “I can’t.” I’d told them, “It’s too painful.” But in some ways I felt like I owed him this. I needed to be there to say goodbye to my Papa.

Before my Gran passed, we sat at the kitchen table and ate and talked—it was our first heart to heart conversation in my sixteen years of life. This conversation was cathartic for me; emotions rushed up from the back of my mind, fighting for the chance to be expressed first. The primary emotion I felt was fear, and the second pain. We talked about my sixteenth birthday party, her favorite topic to discuss around this time, and how she knew I’d have so much fun. She told me that I needed to become more independent, told me that she wanted me to become the best I could possibly be. She didn’t want me to have to rely on her anymore.

I remember living in her house while I was still young, but too young to understand why it was my only home. I remember my mother would drop me off every day before she went to work, but I can’t seem to recall when every day turned into every other week. I’d spend all day with my Gran, and then I’d go home with my parents, but I never truly wanted to leave.

These years of uncertainty & unknowing pass, and I’m on a cruise ship and everyone wants to be happy. Everyone’s together on the annual Family Cruise for the very first time. I regret that I didn’t spend more time with her on this cruise, but I won’t deny that she seemed the happiest when I wasn’t with her. I didn’t see Gran much during the day, but when I did she was always smiling.

She said that she could feel Papa with on that cruise with us, like his essence was like the smoke that filled the air in the casino. However, his essence didn’t pollute the lungs and kill. I think her heart was so full of him and the black smoke she inhaled—I think that’s what killed her. I think this is what sent her into the attack that would inevitably kill her, but I don’t blame Papa for what I’ve lost. How can I when I am at fault too, punished by the reminder that I didn’t spend enough time with her. Neglectful in an accidental and unforgiving way towards her, surely I’m the reason she’s gone. But I can’t quite blame myself, either. I spent all of my childhood with her, my Gran. I spent every day with my parents on that cruise, spent the nights in a bed that felt miles away from her and in those moments I’d never felt closer. We didn’t talk during those nights. We just listened to the rhythm of our breathing, and I can still remember hers: slow and heavy, so comforting yet so painful to remember now.  I remember the nights I spent alone, waiting until my parents were asleep to call her and listen to that familiar voice sing to me, telling her “I couldn’t sleep”, then crying softly because I couldn’t be where she was. It seemed like she never forgot those moments—like she never forgot about me.

After Papa died, she told me I’d stopped smiling. She told me I carried myself differently, and I laughed because it was true. I don’t smile because I have no more reason to. I no longer have him. I carry myself differently because I’ve lost all respect for myself. I always asked her why happiness was so subjective. She always told me I could only bring myself happiness. This wasn’t the answer I was looking for, of course, and I’d laugh it off and tell her I could never be truly happy again. Heart to heart conversations were never her specialty. She never learned how to be tender and loving, which is something she expressed to me multiple times during disagreements we jokingly called “fights”.

I didn’t want to think about her leaving me—it seemed like it was all too fast and too real, it was too early to be thinking about her dying. I shut it out of my mind for as long as I could,  cried because I knew she was always right—my time with her was sifting through my fingers faster than I knew. Time was passing faster than any of us knew & I cried because I missed her already, even though she was an arm length away. Our rushed hands met each other and we held them there in silence because we both knew how much we really needed each other.

  Making up the time that my family didn’t spend with Gran seems to be everyone’s goal. We’re closer than ever, but under all the wrong circumstances and for the worst reasons. Relative’s names I’ve long since forgotten and faces I’ve never seen before pop up here and there, claiming to remember seeing me when I was “this small”. The whole family—or what’s left of it—meet at Gran’s house and sit at Gran’s table, like we used to. We’re all together again, but this time it’s different and no one is as happy as they were before. I’m somehow different from everyone else—on the outside I am like them, but my feelings are constantly falling in on themselves and rearranging during this time of bittersweet togetherness. They’re only happy because they are here. Everyone laughs, and says “I love you” but this time these words aren’t strained yet, and I can’t find Gran but Mom isn’t anywhere near me. I’m surrounded by this sea of family until everything is just one big “I love you” and you can feel the energy running through all of us.

We park in the street in rings around her house, waiting for the day when we’ll be used to this emptiness. Waiting for the day we might see her again.

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece about my grandmother, who passed away on October 13th, 2018. She was very close to me, almost like a second mom. I miss her dearly, & this is my piece for her. Thank you for reading. 

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