Her face is sucked in like dry leather. Her eyes travail as if fighting her last moments. I can’t help wondering if she’s still afraid of what’s on the other side, afraid she was too bad a person for peace.
Three months ago, she was eating two donuts a day, the cake sputtering from her eighty-two year old lips as she made gossip. Last week, she couldn’t even have a bite.
When she passes, I’m not there. I’m driving home. I know to drive home. I know my grandmother wants to die in a quiet room with her daughter by her side. She wants to close her eyes without all the questioning stares of her family.
“I think I’m going to hell,” she told me a month before.
“The fact that you think that means it isn’t true.”
She gave me one of her annoyed faces, the same look my niece would be born with ten months later.
I can’t erase her fears. Some of them are true. Her mother’s family cold-shoulders her funeral. Her “close” friends, who I happen to work with, give me no condolences in the cubicle halls. Her mausoleum drawer becomes too distant for me to touch.
I wake three mornings after she dies, drive to Dunkin Donuts, order one cakey breakfast treat. It sticks to my lips and fingers. I post a simple request to social media in her honor.
A baker’s dozen of friends answer my post with selfies within three hours, confectioner sugar smiles bringing me forward into another bittersweet day.
published 17 September 2016