Last year, I was going to to an interview and then meet up with my now boyfriend in Queens (I lived in Harlem at the time). And as I crossed that bridge, I was struck with an eerie sense of deja vu,
And then, I remembered: the previous year, my grandmother had died, and I’d taken this same bus to get to Laguardia Airport to attend the funeral.
I wiped tears from my face; I didn’t want anyone on the bus seeing me in such distress.
Nearly two and a half years since she’s passed, and part of me refuses to believe it. She died on Mother’s Day. I remember it so well because I was planning on calling her at 9:00 AM to wish her a happy Mother’s day. I hadn’t spoken to her since her birthday, February 28th. She hadn’t been well at all. She’d fallen, and I knew the end was nearing.
I received a phone call from my mother at 8:48. She rarely calls, so I knew this wasn’t going to be good. She told me that my grandmother had died a few minutes before. The funeral was set for that Saturday. I had finals the following week. Plane tickets were upwards of $500.
Life was turning to shit.
I left that Friday afternoon, and had a three-hour layover in North Carolina. I tried to dull the pain by focusing on the piano player and the cool rocking chairs scattered throughout the airport. I hated being reminded why I was at the airport in the first place.
I arrived in Memphis at 9 or 10 that night, and one of my sister’s friends drove me to the hotel. I talked with her and my sister for the hour and a half drive, mainly about how cool New York was, but in reality, I was dying on the inside.
My hotel room felt cold (not temperature-wise). And seedy. This is what businessmen must feel like. My mother stocked the fridge with food – and jellybeans. I watched TV before falling asleep.
I met the rest of the family that Saturday, at my grandmother’s home. It felt bare, like something was missing. I held it together still.
I hadn’t seen my family in four years. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t afford to. The drive was silent.
I broke down at the funeral. When I saw her face in the casket, all made up. After days living in denial, there she was, less than 10 feet away from me me. I felt guilty about not checking on her more frequently, just like I did with my grandfather years ago. This was real, and it hurt.
I spent the rest of my time reconnecting with friends, walking around the neighborhood, generally denying that I had just attended a funeral.
Each day, it gets a little easier. I didn’t have the courage to erase her number. And just now, at 4:20 in the morning, I put her number into my new phone.
*wrote this on 10/17/13