Tuesday, August 27, 2013

For the Woman I Loved the Most in the Whole World

Life begins and life ends. That's the way it is, and the way it always will be. But we don't often realize that until it's too late. We were reminded of that fact this morning, when my grandmother passed away with almost no warning. I was in the office when I got the news, and that single text message broke me down completely.

My first reaction was to curse in disbelief. I re-read the message again to make sure I had not misunderstood it. I didn't. She was gone forever, and I was unsure how to act. So I retreated into a corner and did the only thing I could: I cried my heart out.

In the middle of my uncontrolled weeping, I realized this was really happening. It sunk in like an anchor, dragging my optimism about her supposedly improved condition with it. I broke down knowing that I will never hear her voice again. I will never taste her cooking again. I will never hear her wonder aloud if I was gay again. All her quirks, mannerisms and expressions are just memories now.

I couldn't accept it. I still can't. Especially not after seeing (and feeling) her dead, cold body. I cried again after that. It seemed unfair that it should happen so soon. I had so many things left to say, and so many things I wanted to do. Her birthday was just 2 weeks away, and I was looking forward to buying her something really nice. Maybe treat her to a classic Spanish dinner. She was a simple woman, my lola. Food and company were all it really took to make her happy.

And we all loved making her smile. She became more child-like with old age, and despite it making her more impatient, stubborn, and a little insensitive, we all knew she was still our sweet old lola. She still loved us very much, and showed it every way she could. She'd bring home food for us whenever possible. She always worries sick whenever my sisters were out late. She'd constantly ask us about our careers, making sure we were happy with it. Hell, she would even troll us occasionally. She cared about us a lot, and so did we to her.

I think we all knew this was coming, but we just didn't want to acknowledge it. The signs were there. She was getting more forgetful, and had trouble with her normal body functions. She started eating a lot more than she usually did, despite her doctor telling her to limit her food intake. She would get mad when we tried to enforce her strict, doctor-ordered diet. It was a constant challenge getting her dressed and bathed, and sitting for long periods of time would give her difficulty standing up.

Still, I guess we all thought it would happen later rather than sooner. She was still very lucid and full of personality. I thought we'd still have at least one more Christmas with her; probably her favorite time of the year. I thought we could go on more food adventures to find her stuff she'd love eating. We all wanted her to come home safe so that she could get to know our sweet new puppy, Mochi. Even in her final hours, she was asking about the dog, since she loved animals like we did.

It's just so heartbreaking.

I have many regrets over everything. Our busy lives made it difficult to save time for her. We had our fair share of quality bonding moments, but in hindsight, they seem so inadequate now. I guess what really hurts is knowing I could have given her more. More of my time, more of my attention, and more of my love. She deserved it, after all. We'll always remember her as our defender, nourisher, and source of inspiration for living a simple but good life. She made us all better people.

Most of all, I'll remember her as my second mother, and the woman I loved the most in this world. We were raised in her house, but she made sure it was our home. She made me believe that the world is not always the evil place I know it could be. She reminded me that family was everything. She was my heroine.

And now she's gone. Just like that. I'm not sure when I'll be able to accept it completely. What I know for sure is that I will never forget her and everything she taught us.

Rest in peace, Lola. You'll live in our hearts forever.

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