Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Middle

We walked into the small viewing room. The swell of panic bubbled up into my chest toward my tightly clenched jaw, teeth forced into one another, the urge to run overwhelming. There were no windows in the small beige room, only dim fluorescent lighting that cast shadows across faces and corners.  I willed my feet to move in a forward motion knowing I would regret not seeing her one last time before the cremation. As my family walked forward, I lingered behind my mom and uncle as they broke into tears. My mom’s back heaved up and down and the ache she must have felt escaped with a low unnatural sound. My uncle sniffed and wiped at his checks while standing still and simply staring, his hand rubbing my mom’s back in a counterclockwise circle from time to time  They blocked my view slightly and I stayed back still waiting to see a sign that she was still going to look like my grandma. Finally I stepped forward and looked down at my grandma, sleeping, the sheet from her bed wrapped around her like a butterfly getting ready to leave her cocoon. I began to choke again, my throat on fire as I tried to not walk away, to run out of the tight beige room. My sister broke down beside me, crying, shaking her, “Wake up Ita! Wake up!”, the volume in the room magnified by the imminent silence and the speechless sounds of our grief. I shrank further inside myself, muted,  and I found solace in smoothing my grandma’s hair back, tracing the bridge of her nose with my hand trying to make myself not forget what she looked and felt like. I stood there longer than the rest of my family, running my hand along the planes of her face, trying to make the last imprint she would make in my life. My family faded into the background, I stared at her sleeping face and tried to imagine her getting ready for bed, to imagine the nightly ritual I had seen countless times. I saw the faded little girl image of myself sitting in the center of the bed watching her as she sang to herself, watching as she had quietly gone to sleep, watching as she had quietly died alone. 


  1. I haven't experienced the death of a loved one. Yet. Through your words I could see myself in that situation.

  2. Thanks... it's never easy, but writing about it has helped.