There’s not much literary inspiration in caring for my grandmother. There is a lot of sadness—a lot of bittersweet hanging like cobwebs from the ceiling. A lot of soaking up a final moment, and yet still thinking you’ll have many more to come. But after a few months, we are now down to our last few.
She can still tell me that she loves me, before drifting back off into sleep. I wake her up every now and then, just so I can hear her say it back to me. I’ve made her do it now at least a dozen times and I’m sure she needs her rest but I need enough of it to last me for however long I’ll go on here. I am greedy for those words.
In bed, I lie beside her. Her breath is raspy. Her tiny frame so small it can’t even indent the mattress. I smooth her hair back from her brow and cry because crying is the one thing I can do and the one thing that I cannot stop from doing. Also, I cannot stop touching her. I trace her hairline, her cheekbones. Apply chapstick to her lips and wipe her eyes arrange the sheets around her hold her hand. She rarely wakes.
We were supposed to have more time. But now there’s almost nothing left.
My mother and I have gone from quarreling over her treatment to sitting silently across from one another at the table, sharing space. We have molded ourselves into one, and so the things my mother feels are felt by me. Our pain and sadness is so large it fills the small house and it is so loud that we are mostly quiet.
We were supposed to have more time.
There’s so much love inside my chest that I don’t know where it’s supposed to go. I suppose that now I’ll have more room for loving others, which is what she would have wanted. But I would rather spend it all on her.
I’ve woken her again, to tell her that I love her. I’m not prepared for the moment when she might not say it back. More than unprepared, I’m terrified. Such children we are, way-down-not-so-deep beneath the surface. Little human hearts and all the big things that they feel.
There’s not much literary inspiration in caring for my grandmother. I thought there would have been, but the hurt is just too deeply woven and it suffocates the words. They’ll come, just not right now. Right now is for the loving—for the little time that’s left.
Art: Fields, Geordanna Cordero