I was wearing my shrunken plaid pajama bottoms. The top had long been donated; the damage done by the dryer was too severe. Instead of that I was wearing an off-white mariner (that’s what we call them in Jamaica, here I believe they are called vests), also shrunken. I was getting ready for bed.
I had spoken to my mother on the phone earlier. Some not so good things were going on in the family. I wasn’t happy about that. Of course she wasn’t either, but she said she wasn’t going to let it her stress her out. I was with her on that. I don’t like my mother being stressed. Bearing and raising my sister and I was stress enough.
Room empty. Fresh scent. Cool air. I check my phone. Missed calls and a message. It’s from my mother; “…mamma just died”. Silence. In my head. Complete silence. As still as the dead. I don’t believe it. I really don’t. It doesn’t make sense. My cousin in Florida calls. She asks if I heard. Her mother was on the bed with Mama when she died. That does something to someone; to have someone, your own mother, die right beside you. My cousin sounds sad. I think she’s worried about her mother. I am too, but this means Mama is dead. Really dead. I start crying before we hang up.
I walk back to my room from the window in the basement where I went for better reception. Something’s different. It felt something like one of those blue scenes from Dark Oracle. The air about me was different. It was quiet. It was still. My body on the inside was still too, and a little bit tight. Like everything in there moved a bit closer together.
Once I get inside it’s all coming out. I can’t believe it. It can’t be real. But I know it is. I had seen her about three months before when my sister and I had visited during the summer. She didn’t recognize us at first. And she forgot us after we left. We had only been in America for two years. She should still have remembered us. She didn’t. She had lost weight too. A lot of it. I had never known my grandmother to be a slim woman. She still wasn’t slim then, but man had she drawn down. And she was wearing a diaper. My grown grandmother, who had borne seven children, was wearing a diaper. She needed it changed for her. She needed help to eat and drink, and shower. She couldn’t open her mouth widely to talk. She could barely lift up her hands up when she gesticulated. This wasn’t my grandmother. I knew it the minute I saw her. This wasn’t my grandmother.
But there it was. The message from my mother. The phone call from my cousin. It was her. And she was gone. I bawled like a cow. I couldn’t believe it. But I had to, because I knew it was true. My grandmother had died. The one I was closest to. The one whose bed I had slept in. The one who had put a french bun in my hair. The one who had made me an egg for breakfast. The one who had blended oranges and aloe vera for my sinuses. She was gone. Dead. And I was in a room alone taking it all in.
I had gone upstairs to find my father but he was in the bathroom. I went again. He was just coming out from taking a shower. I couldn’t talk because of how hard I was crying. I showed him the phone. The message on the phone. He kept asking me what was wrong. But I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t say anything. I showed him the phone. He couldn’t see it. He didn’t have his glasses. I told him to look at it. He told me to calm down. I went back to my room.
This was too much. Why? I was talking to God now. Why her? Why now? She was the one I loved the most. She was the one who called me by a nickname, that only she used, whenever she saw me. Hadn’t I asked You not to take her? Hadn’t I been worried about it and wanting it not to happen? And You still did it? You made her die? Why? Why? I had asked you not to. I bawled like crazy saying stuff like that in my head whenever I could get it through.
My father came in. He put my phone down on the bed and sat down looking at me. He told me I had to calm down. I told him what I was telling God. I had asked Him not to take her. I had actually prayed and asked Him to let her live and now I hear that my grandmother is dead. Why? I asked Him not to. My poor father must have been worried as hell. I had never cried in front of him like that before. I don’t think he knew what to do. He kept telling me to calm down. It was a part of life he said. But I knew that.
I knew that…