bury her in letters

What do you think a person wants to hear when they are dying? We are all dying of course. I’m speaking of those clinging to death—those who can taste it and eat it and swallow it whole. Those who have a five course meal of death. Death with a side of death with (surprise) death sprinkled on top. Tell me when to stop? Endless amount of death. As much death as they want. All you can eat death.

What do they want to hear? I doubt something new—would it just remind them of everything they’ll never know? Perhaps that’s a great way to go out though with a glimpse of possibility. What would you want to hear? That you’re loved and you matter?

What belongings can I take care of? Does that even matter as an offer? What can I hold vigil to? What stories can I memorize for you? I’ll upgrade to the highest data plan to store all your stories. 

I look both ways. I look both ways for you. You will be gone soon. 

The boy turned man I was dating when my other grandma died texted last night, “I miss you. I must see you.” Your wish is granted. I fly to Florida on Thursday. Over a decade apart, how wild would it be to have the same person there to comfort me? Is that a ritual? Will that heal? It didn’t then. I don’t see why it would now. He got a flat tire as we drove away from my parents’ house the night I found out grannie died. My dad had to come a few hours later and change the tire out.

Am I somewhere? Am I somewhere else? Yes. I will return. For now, I’m in between. 

How will I ever stop crying long enough to see you? Do you want these tears? Will you accept them? Will you offer your own in turn or are you so ready to go that tears no longer factor in? My dad relayed to me how you said you were “100%” in and gave a thumbs up with a twinkle in your eye at the thought of being released from this life. I laughed and cried when I heard this.

I fear my grandma will want me to be full of life when I last see her. We’re so many decades apart. I have so many to go. Shouldn’t I have a certain spark? I can’t imagine I will.

Siri attempts to read kind texts through my AirPods. Taking words meant to be so full of caring and yet somehow making them feel lifeless, as dead as my grandma soon will be. 

I wanted to be there for my other two grandparents when they died. I wasn’t. They died and I got to keep my last memories of them, their parting gift. My grannie died as I returned from a soccer tournament. My grandfather died soon after I moved to San Francisco. I cried in the streets as his last rites were read a few blocks from the shitty startup I was working for at the time. No one stopped. The world spun madly on.

What does one want to hear in their final moments? What would you want to hear? I return to these questions, these gifts in their own way. Many loved ones die without a proper goodbye.

I grew up with speech impediments. Each time I opened my mouth, the act of being misunderstood followed more times than I wanted. As my speaking abilities grew, the risk changed to being seen and understood… and possibly rejected. I was so ready for the misunderstandings that I had forgotten about the sensation of being understood and still not accepted. Speech impediments come to mind as the thought of an easy way to not be able to communicate what I really want to say to her somehow feels welcome in this moment. Oh to simply slur my s’s and turn my r’s into w’s than to not meet the moment of a final conversation with a loved one. 

My favorite buddy, my grandma, is choosing hospice and choosing death. I couldn’t support the choice more. If I had to dig her grave myself, I would and I would do it promptly and efficiently. Yet still, I am firmly in the world of grief.

I want to surround her with my letters. I’ve written to her and, while he was alive, my granddad, for just shy of a decade. During the height of the pandemic, I wrote her nearly every week. I’ve filled up at least one drawer just full of letters with my horrible handwriting and simple thoughts. I want to surround her in words. Place my letters all over her room, like stars lighting up the sky. I want her to be surrounded by love each moment of her final moments, even if that love is only in the written form. I want to bury her in letters. I only wish I had more words to send her off with.

In a week, she will likely be gone. In a week, who will I write?

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4 responses to “bury her in letters”

  1. The answers will come in time. And if I may suggest please don’t stop writing your letters, both you and your Grandma need to continue with this connection – especially now. There are few words I can offer right now that will soothe your heart right now, but you must try to be steady, gentle, focused for your grandma as she transitions. She needs your strength, your love, and most of all your reassurance. Be brave. I send my condolences, my strength, a heavy heart, and hugs your way,

  2. It is hard for me imagine what I will want when I am 80 and dying (at least, I hope I make it that way). My dad is turning 80 next week. Two of my friends recently lost their fathers, and at my wife’s prompting, I decided to fly across the ocean to spend some time with my dad. He is still playing golf and bridge, so not on the brink of death, but also not getting younger. I decided that the best birthday present I can give him is my time.

    If I had to guess, I would want letters about fond memories.

    Thanks for pouring out your heart and soul. Really tough questions. Hang in there.

  3. Struggling to find any words here… but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to approach any of this. You being you is all you can and all you need to be.

    “In a week, who will I write?”

    Maybe this is open ended and you aren’t looking for answers. I’ve written letters to friends that have passed over the years. It’s helpful sometimes.

    Massive hugs to you my friend. You and your grandma brought immeasurable joy to each others lives and nothing can or ever will change that.

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