Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mi Abue

This past month has been... one of the worst in a very long time (this year, overall, has been one of the worst).

I've had the intention to update this thing since I got back from Mexico, but so many things occurred in such a short span of time (my dad's aunt passed away ten days after my grandma, and my mom's uncle passed away maybe 4 days after that... so funerals were all over the place. The world apparently wanted to see me miserable ever so badly, which of course, it got), I just never got to it.

So, concerning the whole week-long trip to Mexico, these are my points:
  1. I was not scared this time around when it came to the trip. Whatsoever. (There's just something about an actual death [as opposed to just the threat of one] in the family that made me... feel invincible... if that makes sense. "My grandma just died! God wouldn't fuck us over like that right now..." And frankly, I could have cared less if I was really meant to die on the way there)
  2. Funerals are FAR more painful/difficult to endure in Mexico than the U.S. (The entire fucking town is at your house, as your dead relative sits in the living room... the entire fucking day/night. You have ZERO privacy to cry by yourself, because they're sitting there, staring at you... that's right, they just STARE. No one offers to hug you, or pull you away... they just stare at you as you sob uncontrollably at the casket. In my case, I was greasy and smelly from the 20+ hour non-stop car ride. My hair was in a messy, uncombed braid when I walked into the living room to see my grandmother. I did not bother to comb my hair, change clothes, and much less shower before going in public. I just wanted to go in there, kiss my grandmother, and then continue with the living.The room was packed with people who fell silent when we walked in, they stared at my mom, expecting her to scream or something, and they continued to stare as we struggled to open the casket. They stared as Mom hugged and kissed her mother... and I caught them staring at me as I turned away to sob out of my mom's view. I couldn't whisper the "Perdóneme, abuelita... perdóneme" I had been thinking all day... I couldn't do shit [technically, if I were into theatrics, I could have done A LOT, but as far as I'm concerned, NO ONE will know that AnoMALIE cries]. Let's not forget I had not slept in over 36 hours... and I had only been snacking on 2 granola bars Dad was smart enough to pack. Since the house was packed day and night, I had to sleep sitting up... for maybe 2 hours. Mass is a different story. 6 people are to stand at guard next to the casket at all time... and each person that would volunteer to stand would bring a tear to my eye. So many memories flooded my mind while in church. My grandma wanted to go to church SO badly the second to last Sunday we were in Mexico. Of course, since she was bedridden, we couldn't do anything about it. "You're here now, grandma," was all I could think, and I couldn't stop crying over the state we could finally bring her: dead. From there, we had to man up, and walk behind the hearse all the way to the cemetery as the ladies of town sang the [scary] church songs they've sung for centuries in this town. The trip is long... the songs are sad... and hearing/seeing my mom and her siblings sobbing... that shit made me feel like my chest was ready to explode. And I sang... oh yes... I sang. I bugged my poor grandmother for the last 2 years with fucking guitar hero day and night, why the hell was I going to shut up now? And that, of course, made me cry some more. Then the actual burial was HARD. Something about the part where they close the casket... it... it kills me just a little more inside. "This is it, grandma... no more. No more. Now you're just a memory." Then to see the boys of the town, shoveling dirt on top... not strangers doing their job at Palm... but kids with which I grew up playing tag/basketball/volleyball, kids I fought with almost every summer, kids I'd cuss out in heated arguments... they were the ones helping with a task none of us dared to do: bury my grandmother. It touched my heart... hella. And then to just sit there, by the dirt... holding flowers... staring at that fresh mound of dirt... everyone gone... just you. That's when I can talk to my grandma? When she's in the hole, under all this dirt? Fucked. Up.)
  3. My mom is the shit! (she eulogized my grandma right after they finished covering the grave. I've never heard such eloquence. And no, I'm not saying that because she's my mother... EVERYONE there noticed it. EVERYONE there cried. Even the town badass--yeah, we have one of those-- that NEVER shows emotion. No one beats her performance... no one, educated, famous, whatever... my mom made town history that day. She did not cry, her voice did not crack, she did not stutter, she did not have awkward pauses... and the whole time she improvised. My mom only went to 6th grade... yet she is one badass female. BADASS. "Damn *MyBrother*, did you inherit that gift of public speaking?" Bro: No... I fucking wish! I'd be running the world by now! Cousin: Daaaamn, she should write for Obama!)
  4. Mexico is GORGEOUS in September! (on our drive through Sonora, Chihuahua and finally Durango, I saw nothing but beauty. The mountains were green, lush fields of wild flowers appeared every couple of minutes... there were deer, eagles!, bunnies, coyotes... I mean... it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't help but silently thank my grandma...)
My grandma played a GIANT role in my life... something I wasn't very aware of up until the moment I walked into that living-room, that Monday afternoon.
I walk like she did  (shuffling my feet).
I cuss like she did (sweet Jesus, did she cuss! and it was SO cute! "Ahi voy... viejo cabron...").
I hate fish like did (ok, so I eat sushi now, but I can't stand cooking fish).
I puke bile when pissed/nervous like she did.
I mean... the list can go on.
She gave me my name... something I didn't grow fond of until recently.
She purchased my first bike back in like... '93?
She... protected my mom when my grandpa would go fucking crazy... and she would try calming us down as well.
I spent the vast majority of my summers in Mexico. Yes, OFTEN I'd complain... and often I'd straight up try my hardest to avoid visiting my grandparents.
I'd complain over my grandma "not loving me." "Why didn't she have ANY pictures of any of YOUR kids, Mom?!" And it wasn't until I saw her laying in the coffin that I realized... she had no need to have photos of us, she saw us each and every summer. Whether we'd be happy because our crush finally held our hand in public, pissed because we were called in early from play in order to eat dinner, dirty/sweaty after a long day at the park, she had the opportunity to see us, hear us, smell us, feel us. She would wait 9 months to hear/see all our bullshit antics... she got to know us... go as far as advise us (Her: Go to the dance, AnoMALIE. Me: Why?? Her: So you can ::puts her hands up, as if dancing with an imaginary partner:: dance and find yourself a cute guy!).

These past summers, my college summers, I felt regret over going to Mexico so often. I turned down internships, jobs... things that would help further my science career... all for going to Mexico and spending the maximum amount of days possible. Basically, I felt I had wasted my life, for no reason.
And now that I think about it... all that time STILL isn't enough... it WASN'T enough. My grandma, my grandparents deserved that and much more. They gave me so much, yet I gave so little in return.

I'll never forget our last moment together this summer:

We sat in her room, saying our goodbyes 6 hours before our departure time... she laid in her bed, immobile... her eyes watery, but Mom, Sis, Aunt, and I "cracking jokes" in hopes of making her smile.

Grandma: When are you coming back?
Mom: December.
Grandma: ... that's... too long.
:: two tears roll down her cheeks::

Mom: No... look, it's September, October, November, December. 4 months. You'll see us in 4 months! :)
Sis: When we get back, you'll probably be walking by then! :)
Me: Yeah, Grandma! And we'll all be here for Christmas! :)
She just looked at us... tears still in her eyes...
::We hug her::
Mom: I want you to get better! Start eating... and... move those legs of yours! :)

She gave us her blessing... gently (not like the way in which we'd complain, saying she'd just "slap" our mouth, instead of the real thing)... and she gave me a real (as opposed to an "air") kiss on my cheek.

...I didn't kiss her.
I ran out of the room.

My resilient... "Iron" grandma... all 4 foot 8 of her... is gone. Now just a sweet, sweet memory. Her 89 years of life, a true testament of the courage, patience, and dedication a woman is capable of possessing.

You finally got to rest, abuelita.