Your Last Look
"Grandma and Me"
The building chills the skin on your body and sends shivers down your back. That is the first thing you sense when you enter the breathing cemetery. The lights hang low and dim over the brown aged leather couch in the waiting room. You look around seeing the breathing corpses. They can’t remember life before. Every day they meet new people. But every day those new faces leave their minds.
The quiet deafens. The tv’s black screen turns into a void of nothingness. No conversations, no sound of cards or dominoes on a table. Your family talks with the worker who greets you. The worker knows someone from your family well. She talks to him more like a friend rather than a customer. You walk over to that old aged leather couch and flop yourself onto it while everyone else follows the worker to a room. You choose not to go. A pit deepens in your stomach. You close your eyes and try to picture memories of old, where the warmth of the sun shines on your skin. Memories of the times where you curled up next to her and watched old monster movies. But you can’t remember; you only remember the bad and the worse.
You are dizzy, possibly from the flight you got off not even two hours ago. But you know that’s not it. Your mind clouds, like a fog of emotions. Sadness, anger, but also relief. You know that the end will come soon. You make the decision not to look. You want to remember her for the amazing woman she was. But your body moves on its own. You lift yourself up from that old couch and walk back to the room. Your brother comes out to tell you not to look. He knows that it will be hard for you to witness. But still, you look through the door. The bed has cream color sheets, and she has a green blanket on top of her. You look at your grandfather as he holds her hand, just as he has done for the last two years. He tells her he loves her.
She lays in that bed with her eyes closed and her mouth just barely open. She looks like a skeleton with skin, a breathing corpse. She seems like you could turn her to dust by touching her. Your mother is brushing her hair, it’s just as beautiful as you remember it. But you know that’s not her. She died two years ago when she forgot you. Everyone looks up at you. They ask you to come in and sit. They talk about the good times and share stories with one another. You should sit down, but you can’t.
All you manage to say is, “Hi Grandma, I love you.” You turn and walk back out to that old couch. Your mother and grandfather follow you. You look at them with tears welling in your eyes. They both grab you and hold as you let it all out onto their shoulders. Hot tears run down your face as you think, this shouldn’t be happening. It’s unfair that a person as kind and caring as your grandmother should be put through this. She doesn’t deserve it. She doesn’t deserve to lose everyone she loves, meeting new people every day just to forget them the next.
You tell yourself the person laying in that bed, in that room, can’t be your grandmother—your hero. You remember your trips and your many talks. You remember the good and the best.