I was in my dorm room, about to go out, when my mom called. I quickly put a few things in my backpack and drove to my house. My parents acted like it was really weird that I wanted to go to the hospital with them. They kept telling me that I could stay at school if I wanted. Mom said that my grandmother was supposed to die first, and that he was supposed to die on a sailboat. I couldn’t look into her eyes for long.
In the hospital, a nurse told us that my grandfather had had a massive stroke and that his eyes weren’t responding to light. His senses didn’t work; his mind was gone and it was just his body there, in bed, mouth open. The nurse said to keep talking to him anyway. She said you just don’t know. His legs kept jumping, throwing off the sheets; each time, the nurse and my aunt would cover them again.
I was in the hallway of the ER and a nurse wheeled out a woman with the whitest hair. We stared at each other for a really long time. I went into the X-ray room to be alone. They moved my grandfather’s twitching body to a regular hospital room, where my mom and my grandmother answered all these questions about him and signed off on the form that said it was OK to not try to save him anymore. My aunt left and came back with a bag of peppermints. I didn’t want one, but I took one when she offered.
Then I was in the car with my father going back to my grandparents’ house. We were going to sleep for a few hours and then go back, but my mom came into the bedroom early in the morning, bent down, and hugged my father. I asked what time he had gone, and my father said 4:30 AM. I went back to sleep. I feel guilty about that. When I got up and walked into the living room, everyone was sitting around, saying nothing. My grandmother was there, looking very lost. She said they had been having such a nice day before it happened, and I said “I know,” because I did know, because she had been saying it all night.
Then I was back at school and I cried in front of a teacher and skipped some classes. My brother came back and we both were all “you’re real” because I guess it’s been since August since we’ve seen each other.
Then I was at the visitation on Saturday and was hugging all these people I didn’t really know and talked to my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. One of our younger cousins eats bacon for every meal.
Then we were all in the church. My grandmother placed a rose on top of the box of his ashes when she went to take communion, and we walked out as everyone sang “Lift High the Cross.”
Now I’m at school. And I keep on thinking about how, in the hospital room, my grandmother had been asking where his glasses were and the nurse kept telling her that he didn’t need them anymore but she kept on asking until my mom held up the bag that held his things. And my grandfather was there but he already looked like a ghost. ♦