It’s been one whole year since my beloved grams passed on. It’s hard to believe it because it feels like it was just yesterday we were mourning her death. Last year, on a day like today, she breathed her last, while admitted in hospital. It was so unexpected, that when mom told us her mom had died, it took me a while before it actually sank in; that my grams was gone. All through the burial preparation, I never shed a tear. Part of me wanted to believe I had accepted her passing. And things remained that way; until the day of her burial.
Since mom was the one in-charge of the funeral arrangements, we (my small sister and I) went with her to get grams’ body from the funeral home. I’ve always had the impression mom was fearful when it came to such morbid affairs, but she had me reassessing my earlier presumptions; she went into the morgue to check if gram’s body was prepared for burial, accompanied by dad while my sister and I remained in the car.
From where I was seated, I looked around and saw this place, where they were selling coffins. The thought of seeing grams lying in one of those struck me simultaneously and all the emotions I had been trying to bottle up started spewing; and it is at that point that I started crying. Still, I tried to restrain myself. Partly because I knew her death had been so hard on mom and if she was to see me teary, all her courage or the semblance of it would evaporate and she would break down.
I just took some tissues and dabbed my face. Unfortunately, as it is with emotions, once that lid comes off, it becomes really difficult taming those unruly feelings. My thoughts drifted to the past; back to this one time, when my sisters and I were still small. It was during the long Christmas holiday and mom had dropped us off at her place while she went back to work.
Lovingly, grams had given us a tour of her vast coffee farm. That was the first time I saw coffee berries. Separating her farm from her neighbours’ was this big river and I remembered feeling so awed. The view was breath-taking. As my thoughts wandered back in time, uncontrollable tears rolled down my cheeks as it started hitting home that we would never have such beautiful moments together again. That grams was gone forever.
The thought of never seeing her again, or holding her hand, or hugging her, or seeing her walk energetically in between rows of coffee bushes just crashed me. She was gone for good. But then, I remembered how she was the last time I had seen her a few months before she passed on. She was frail, and just looked desolate. Her two sons, who lived on the same farm had been fighting constantly and in my opinion, that stressed her a lot, even though they failed to notice.
Seeing her sons fight like enemies sworn against each other had been eating at her and sometimes I feel she fell into depression, albeit the doctors didn’t mention it. When I had last talked to her, she seemed to have lost all will to live. On many occasions she wished she was dead, and I would try to enliven her by telling her the things she would look forward to; I just wanted to give her something happy to hold on to. But I guess the damage had already been done. She just wanted to die.
That frail image of her reminded me what I had been saying since I learned she had gone. She was at peace with herself, and the universe. On the day she died, she just saw mom and peacefully breathed her last. I believed she was in a better and happier place. That thought alone comforted me.
Thankfully, I managed to hold my tears back, and as the hearse carried her body to her final resting place, I was still willing myself not to cry. My small sister and I read the eulogy and when eventually, we got to the grave, the disturbing thoughts came back again in full force. Mom, who had appeared strong the entire time finally broke down and she wailed, when her mom was being lowered into the grave.
With all the strength I could summon, I just picked up a handful of soil and with tears in my eyes, dropped it in the grave. My small sister did the same and when some young men came with shovels and started covering the grave, we walked away. It was a really sorrowful day.
Today we’re attending a memorial mass to celebrate the first anniversary of her death. It has been a whole year since she left this world, but memories of her are still fresh in my head. I still haven’t mastered the courage to look at her photos because everytime I try to, the sudden feeling of loss hits me afresh.
I don’t know if I will ever get used to the fact that she’s gone, but as the days pass by, I pray she is in a happy place.
P/S: I wrote this post earlier today before I attended the memorial service.