Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breathing In

I learned a lesson last week. Death sucks and not for those that die, but for those that are left behind. I learned that guilt sucks. No matter what we do or say when they are alive, we will feel guilt. Last week, I lost my grandmother, my Yiayia. I will never again hear her voice, I will never again see her face. I won't hear her telling me to turn my shoes right side up. I won't have anyone to bless me with oil and water to take the evil eye off me. This is all in the past, my Yiayia and her Greek superstitions.
I made it to the hospital to see her die. No no no no, this is not my Yiayia. You must be mistaken! My Yiayia is much heavier, she can talk, she can smile, she can see, she can move. She can....I swear she can. Where is she? But wait, that is her hair, those are her hands, that is her smooth skin. Is she alive? I can see her chest moving.....barely. Why is her mouth frozen open? Is she trying to talk to me? Does she want to talk to me? Move Yiayia. Please move. I lean in. I swear I can smell death on her breath. It's a sour acrid smell. But it also means life because I feel its heat on my face. I welcome the smell. In fact I breathe it in. I need it. I want it. It means I still have her. Yiayia, I love you. Can you hear me? I'm sorry I didn't say it before. I'm sorry I couldn't hug you. I'm sorry I rushed you off the phone. I'm sorry I didn't visit more. I do love you. I really really do. Keep breathing. Let me inhale. Just let me inhale a little more. Give me a sign, any sign that you can hear me. They told me hearing was the last to go. Can you hear me through the morphine haze? Can you hear me as the cancer wins its battle? Are you in there? Is your mind alive? Do you see, do you feel? Is your soul begging to be released from this place...from its shell? Is it better if you go? Did you wait for me? Did you need to see us before you go? Go now Yiayia. Go. Go. Go. Go. Be in peace and leave me with my guilt. I will kiss your smooth forehead and my tears will fall on your cheeks. I love you.

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