I thought about her all day. I looked at photos and wondered how to best commemorate the tenth anniversary of her passing. Brunch seemed like a good idea, but I woke up too late for that. A visit to the cemetery in East LA would have been good too, but I had a long day at work and there would be traffic. There’s always traffic. I settled on coffee. Grandma loved coffee, but I never really developed a taste. I drink it occasionally, the cravings having come after I had my first really good cup a couple years ago.
I didn’t have a cup of coffee until after dinner with friends. (Which explains why it’s 2:45 am and I’m not sleepy.)
When I got home, I searched through my archives for the piece I’d written about the day she passed. I didn’t need to do it again, an advantage of being a long-term blogger (and before that I wrote everything in journals). There’s also a downside to this constant chronicling. As I re-read old posts, I find myself back in the same place I was in January 2000. And once again, I get teary eyed and the pain is fresh, kind of like when you scrape off the scab over a wound.
Below, I’ve pasted a post from the old blog. Minutes after I wrote this, I learned that my Madrina Bertha had passed away after a battle with cancer. RIP, Grandma and Madrina Bertha.
reliving a day i can’t forget, even if i tried
01.12.04 // 10:03 p.m.
I’ve been feeling a bit off for the past couple of days. It hit me last night while I was in Mass at the UCC that the following day was January 12th. That means that it would be exactly four years since the death of Grandma Juana, my father’s mother.
I almost cried, but I didn’t want to. I’ve cried enough already. I cried so much that day, with huge hiccup tears. There are few times I recall crying like that. One was about heart break, another time was about breaking down under severe stress, a third time was my sister’s overdose, and the last was Grandma’s death.
Aside from having a pretty gross case of pink eye, I was doing pretty well that Wednesday, January 12, 2000. It was a normal day of my college life. Running errands, meeting with counselors, going to class, going to meetings hanging out at the MEChA cubicle (the office was being renovated).
A little before 6 in the evening, Ome [former roommate] and I left the MEChA cubicle to go to the bathroom. Afterwards, I used the campus phone to call my dorm and check my messages. I had one message. It was from Danny.
I didn’t erase Danny’s message for weeks and memorized it. You know when you know that news is about death? That’s what I felt, but I thought he was talking about a friend of the family. Who would leave a message like that?
I’ve never felt so alone as I did then. I called Ome out of the bathroom. Friends are good, but sometimes you really need family around. At the pay phone, I called the South Gate dealership where my dad worked even though I knew he wouldn’t be there. I think I paged him after that, and then I called home. Was it Adrian or Lori who answered? Somehow the memory isn’t that clear. No one else was home, and my younger sibling didn’t really know how Grandma had died.
It was all so sudden, and jarring and surprising… I guess why it hurt so much. Ome and I went back to the cubicle which was full, got my backpack and let people know I wouldn’t be going to the meeting, and left. My boyfriend walked me out to his truck in Lot 4. I remember that walk. Neither one of us spoke. I felt numb. He drove me in his little truck back to my dorm on the hill and stayed with me a little bit. I told him he should leave, solitude seemed more comforting.
He left. And I cried… and cried and cried. After finally feeling like I could talk about it, I searched around and found no one. My only friends on the floor were at the MEChA meeting or at dinner. I ran downstairs to my old RA’s room. I spoke to him for a little while and returned to my room to find a message from my Dad. When I called back, he apologized for Danny. He had more details. When I asked if he’d be coming to pick me up, he told me it would be best to finish the week if I felt okay. He was calm and collected, but the weariness and sadness in his voice was clear.
On Friday evening, I went home. The rosario was held that evening. I didn’t cry at the rosario. I didn’t want to mourn collectively. I felt like I had to do it all by myself since I started grieving alone.
I went to the funeral and enterro with my family, hugged dozens of family members, and went through all the motions. No tears though, except when we sang “Amor Eterno”… you have to cry when you sing that song.
I didn’t go to Grandma’s house in East LA when my family got together to clean it out and prepare it for sale. I didn’t go to the grave site until May, after Mother’s day. I was selfish, wanting to do it on my own and at my own pace. I still go to the panteón alone to visit Grandma and Grandpa. [For the most part, this is still true 10 years later.]
I miss Grandma. I miss her cats, her coffee, her warm room that smelled like Vicks Vaporub, I miss her hugs and laugh. I miss playing on that porch in East LA and running around the house playing tag with my cousins. I miss going to her house on Christmas day and Sunday brunch with her, Grandpa, and my Tio Rick week at IHOP/Mimi’s/La Mariposa (whatever resaurant was her favorite at the time).
I just miss her.