I wasn’t going to talk about this, but I thought writing about it might help me figure some things out.
My grandmother passed away last week. On Monday night my mom called me into my sister’s room I could immediately tell something was wrong. She started crying and choked on her words but I understood what she said. She told us my grandma (my dad’s mother) was unconscious. My grandpa couldn’t wake her up and he called an ambulance. She said the only thing we could do now is pray and hope she wakes up soon. It didn’t fully register in my head when I started crying. It was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had. I started hyperventilating immediately, and the next thing I knew, I was sobbing on my mother’s shoulder. I was scared. I’ve never experienced fear like that before. Intense, pure fear. And it was fear for some else.
I’ve never had to fear for someone else before. Up until recently I’d always been one of the lucky kids who’s grandparents were all alive and healthy (Alhamdullilah). I’d never lost someone I was close to before. I knew I was lucky. I didn’t take it for granted. But after having them with me for so long, I began to think of them differently. In my eyes they were immortal. They were practically indestructible. I always imagined that they’d all live to see me get married and see their great grandchildren. But that wasn’t true. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d react. And most of all, I couldn’t imagine my life without my grandparents. So as soon as I could control my crying, i wandered into my room and locked the door. The first thing I did was text my best friend and ask her to pray for my grandmother. The second thing I did was curl into a ball and cry for a good ten minutes. With shaky hands I pulled my scarf over my head and grabbed the Quran from the top shelf of my closet. As horribly embarrassing as it is to say, I hadn’t touched it in longer than I’d like to admit. But I sat down and started from the beginning.
While I was reading I could hear my father’s voice coming from downstairs.
“Don’t worry daddy. I’m booking my ticket now. Everything will be fine. I’m coming over there. It’ll be okay.”
My eyes were tired from crying and my brain just wasn’t working, but I got through half of the first para before my mom called me back into my sister’s room. I put my Quran down and opened my door thinking she had good news. I stepped out of my room, feeling a little better. My mom was standing in front of my sister’s door, waiting for me. Her face was red. I could hear my sister sobbing in her room. I could hear my dad trying to comfort her. I made eye contact with my mom and she just shook her head.
“She passed away.”
I felt like I didn’t have control of my body for the next few moments. It’s hard to explain. I felt like earlier that night, except more intense. And it wasn’t fear this time. It was intense sadness. Yet another thing that I had never experienced before. I didn’t realize I was crying. I didn’t consciously decide to cover my face with my hands. And I didn’t decide to slump against the wall and let myself fall to the floor. It just happened. My mom pulled me to my feet and dragged me into my sister’s room. We all just stood there and cried together. My dad was trying to be strong, but eventually he broke down too. I’d only ever seen my dad cry once before. He was talking about the Prophet (PBUH). But this was different. I couldn’t handle this.
The one thing worse than my dad crying was my grandpa crying. We talked to him over the phone a little later. He could barely speak. But he managed to say one thing: “Your dadima is no more.” Those words, hearing him say it, that made it real. Up until that point it felt like a bad dream. That night was bad, but it felt real. In the ten days since it happened her death has never felt real. It’s still a bad dream. I keep thinking my dad is going to bring my grandma back with him when comes home. But it’ll just be him and my grandpa. Maybe it’ll feel real after that. After I see him alone, see him without her.
But I just saw her less than two months ago. I remember her so well. I remember how her perfume smelled kinda like sandalwood. I remember how her hands felt. They were wrinkly but still soft. I used to hold her hand whenever we went anywhere. I’d walk slowly with her. She’d squeeze my hand when it was cold outside. And when I sat next to her she keep her hand on my leg. Then she’d laugh and tell me I’m too skinny. I remember her laugh. And her smile. I remember her. I feel like I’m not supposed to remember her so well. It makes it harder to believe that she’s gone. She doesn’t feel gone. My friend told me that feeling doesn’t go away. The sadness doesn’t go away.
I don’t know how I feel anymore. Of course I’m upset about it. I’ll always be upset and I can live with that. But I feel like I’m not sad enough. I feel like I moved on too quickly. Everyone else is still crying and talking about her and I just want to move on. I feel like crying when we talk about her. But the strange thing is that I haven’t cried since that night. I want to cry. I need to cry. But I can’t. It’s like my body wont let me be sad. I’m not sad. I’m not happy and I’m not fine and I’m not sad. I’m just kinda…I’m just kinda here. I’m just trying to get through it. I’m waiting for it to blow over so we can stop talking about her and people can stop calling my house and coming over, and my mom can stop telling everyone how she died and how great she was, and how the funeral went. I’m tired of hearing that story. She’s told it at least thirty times and it never gets easier to hear. But it doesn’t make me feel sad. I just don’t like this. I don’t like any of this moping and everyone around me feeling like they have to be extra nice, and the awkward silences when I tell people she passed away. Why does no one know how to deal with death? It makes everything so awkward. No one has found the perfect, sincere thing to say when someone dies. So no one says anything. They just bite their lip and stare at you until you say you’re fine and change the subject.
I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. I just want this to be done. I want everyone to move on with me. I want to stop feeling like an asshole for not being sad enough.
I just want to cry. I can’t cry. It’s been making me physically ill. I’m the type of person who gets physically affected when I’m upset. If I’m stressed or nervous I get nauseous until the thing I’m worried about is over. But for the past week and a half I’ve been feeling so strange. I’m shaky and sore and fidgety and tired and I finally figured out what it was. I need to cry. I need to let myself break down again. And I keep waiting for it to happen. But its not. And I still haven’t figured out why.
I have a feeling it will happen tomorrow, though. Tomorrow is my birthday. My grandma has always been here for my birthday. Hers is four days after mine and we’d celebrate together even though she’d always say her birthday didn’t matter. Every year she’d hand me twenty five dollars in an envelope that she had scribbled “many happy returns of the day” on and kiss me on the forehead. Every year. Every freaking year.
I just want to hold her again. I want to give her a long hug and not let go and sit and talk to her and hold her hand and go for a walk with her and see her again. I just want to say goodbye. I didn’t get to say goodbye.