Death always frightens me.
It’s the only thing I cannot control no matter how much I try
I lost my grandmother two months ago. It never occurred to me death would take her all of so sudden, it comes just like a thief. Road accident took her. Six days in hospital until she gave up. Apparently the physical trauma was too much and neither her body nor consciousness could handle. It was too much.
It was Saturday night and I just got home from hospital with my mother when the news reached us. I was planning on coming back the next morning and bring my lip balm because her lips looked so chapped. Six days spent in ICU unconscious, she got the water and nutrition intake only through IV. But it was too late.
I came to visit her the next day, but she lied on hospital bed no more. Her body was inside a coffin filled by some of her belongings, she wore clothes I’ve never seen worn by her, and her body was covered by sheer fabric. She was in ICU no more but funeral home. I got there in the afternoon after we went to the church in the morning. That day, I decided to stop praying. Stop believing in any form of miracle or spiritual reassurance anymore. That day, I decided to eliminate god and its associates from my life.
Three days on funeral home, I didn’t cry that much. Not as much as that Saturday night when I cried myself to sleep. The hardest part was the ceremony before they closed the coffin it was the last time I cried when we were at the funeral home. Days later, I observed so many people came by and told stories about my grandmother. It was as if I know her even more than when she was alive.
Night before we were going to bury her, we had sleepover at grandma’s house. We even slept in her room and her bed. It was weird coming to her home but wasn’t greeted by her wide toothless smile. But perhaps we were tired already. I was tired already that I fell asleep as soon as I laid my head.
The next morning we came back to the funeral home and going to the cemetery. She was going to be buried next to my grandfather who died ten years ago. There I watched as people put her coffin down. I was standing near my mother the whole time. To keep her safe? To give her reassurance? I didn’t know, I only knew that it was best to be near her that time. Right after the ceremony is done, we were about to go home. I said the exact words I used to say whenever I am about to go home after visiting her
“Oma, pulang dulu ya”
But that time, I wasn’t facing her who’s standing on the terrace giving her wide toothless smile and hearing her saying goodbyes. That time, I was facing a cold headstone and was only replied by silence. I tried so hard to hold my tear, because I know it would only make my mother cry even more if she saw it.
Few weeks ago, I came again to their grave for it was the forty-ninth days and there was some ceremonial should be done. I thought I wouldn’t cry anymore because the atmosphere itself wasn’t surrounded by sadness. We shared stories of some of us had dreams about her. I guess the atmosphere was more nostalgic than sad. But when it was the time to go, I said the words out of habit, and still it felt weird. It feels strange to say those words onto a cold headstone not a warm smile.
I imagine how strange it would be when it comes to Chinese New Year, or that one day when we visit graves of our family to clean it up and gives the dead offerings, or whenever we feel like visiting her home, but her presence is no longer there.
She gave me a perfect mother I couldn’t ask for more, I believe she was one too. It took me weeks to finally be able to write about her. I am not a person who shows affection easily. There were no I love you’s came out from my mouth, no hugs or kisses given, but I loved her just the same.
And nothing frightens me more than the death of any other people I love.