I saw you for the last time today. I didn’t want to leave you alone yesterday. All by yourself with your loved ones gone. Just like I didn’t want to leave you today laying at the top of a hill. Good news is your daughter is close to you.
Everyone commented on how good you looked. But I didn’t think you looked good. I knew what they meant but I’m positive they agree – I liked you better when you were alive.
Warm skin. Tight embrace. Involuntary and voluntary motions. Warm blood. Beating heart. Comforting accented voice.
I couldn’t bring myself to kiss your forehead. That’s always the part of funerals that I hate. I hate touching the body and feeling how cold and hard it is. You go from soft and fleshy to cold and lifeless. I kept trying to see the rise and fall of your chest. It didn’t happen.
I touched your arm and it felt like my chest was going to rip open. The heaviness was unbearable. The tears wanted to flow with the accompaniment of a painful scream. I think I manage to hold myself together pretty well in public.
I went into the bathroom and cried and asked you to forgive me.
I remember kissing my great grandma on the forehead when I had to pay my respects. The coldness lingered on my lips for hours.
When we were saying farewell to your physical form, I fixed the flower in front of your daughter’s grave. It felt like grieving for two people at once.
You would have been so happy to see everyone in the family there today.
People socializing and eating. Laughing and crying. Kids running around and playing with one another. New life.
Your other daughter played a song you really liked. The lyrics said “don’t cry for me.” I know you wouldn’t want us to be sad because you always said you would be in a better place.
Everyone kept saying how much fun you and your daughter must be having in Heaven right now. I hope that’s true.
The Priest today mentioned a biblical verse that referenced the dead to those asleep. I’d like to think of it that way instead. A deep slumber.
Grief hits you in the oddest of ways. One day you think of the person gone and you feel heavy but you breathe and know you will be alright. Then you’re in Target and are reminded in some way and start to tear up in the middle of Target. Holding some obscure random object. The next you’re out with friends and laughing at something stupid. You’re reminded that it will be alright.
The laughter feels like a release. It feels good. Then you’re walking down 86th street in Brooklyn listening to salsa music and the singer says in Spanish: “This is my grandmother’s music” and you feel a rip of pain. Then to top it off he also mentions Puerto Rico’s dish, Cuchifrito, the nickname you always called me, and you feel like breaking even more. It’s a wonder you don’t stumble over and cry in the middle of the street.
I miss you. The house is not the same without you. No one is the same without you. I miss you.
I wish I could hold you again but those wishes will not come true. I still wrestle with whether there is an afterlife or not. I hope one day you prove to me that there is one. Show me a sign.
Grief reminds you that you also have a life to live. Even though it’s painful. Even though you’re without that person. Weed out the negative and destructive relationships in your life. If you have to question a friendship more times than you can think of reasons to value it, that’s a red flag. It’s a cliché saying but life is too short. It’s cliché for a reason, it resonates with enough people. It holds truth. I still have another grandmother to love. I still have my parents to love. I still have my friends to create memories with. I still have countries to visit and be fascinated by. I still have lives that I haven’t touched. I still have to see the little ones grow up and be wonderful beings. I still haven’t experienced falling in love. I am still someone’s niece, cousin, Titi, daughter and friend. Maybe even someone’s future mother.
Get that drink with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while. Form new healthy and exciting relationships. Do something you are afraid of. Tell people how you feel about them, when you feel it. Hug and kiss them whenever you have the chance. Live spontaneously. Be nicer to your parents. Even though you think they will never understand you, they’ve had their fair share of pain and struggle too. Stop holding so much inside. Let it out. Even if you have a 9-to-5 job you don’t really like in order to pay bills, do something outside of that job that gives you purpose and makes you happy. Then, slowly but surely leave that job to replace it with one you do like. Take more steps to stop being so angry. Why are you so angry? Leave the past where it is. It will never change and it’s not coming back. And maybe, that’s a good thing. Stop holding other people’s opinions so valuable when you do not even agree with them. You think they’re idiots anyway. Read a new book. You do not have to go to school in order to constantly learn new things. Stop wasting time. Your time is very valuable and every day you are alive is one day closer to your expiration date.
My first semester of college, my favorite professor asked us how often we think about death. I told him I think about it all the time.
Know that you are not immortal. Let that settle in. Now, go from there.