For my nonna:
I think what shocked me the most was that you were in good health. You were just having some minor heart problems. All you needed was a valve replacement. I’d like to think your heart had become weak from all of the nourishing love you gave to so many people in your life. You would smile at that theory because it’s something I would suggest as my eight year old self.
When my parents came home to tell me the formidable news, they did not even say a word. The sheer look of sorrow on their faces caused me to fall the floor. But not matter how loudly I sobbed, I knew it would change anything. In that moment I wish I could be sitting with you while we drank coffee. Your always took yours with Sweet-N-Low. You would be talking to be me about your days as a restaurant manager. How one of your former employees, who is now inevitably one of your closest friends, would crawl under desk and bite your ankles. You would shriek, but soon you’d be laughing. I wish I could be sitting in your lap singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with you while you comb through my knotty hair. I wish we could be driving through the Poconos, gazing at the mountains eating the best homemade chocolate we found from a candy shop we happened to stumble upon earlier that day.
You had three children. Only two are still living. The boys got your boisterousness and the girl got your compassion. Your husband at the time had so many dogs and you couldn’t stand them. As soon as he would open the back door to let the dogs in, you’d be waiting at the open front door as the dogs ran out. Your disdain for your husband grew, but under the circumstances, you could not leave him. Your children were accessories to trouble. Not in the sense that they were constantly getting in trouble, but they were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. You even found yourself in the same predicaments.
I think the hardest person to face was my grandfather, who in actuality is my step grandfather. But if I didn’t know any better, I’d think we’d have the same blood running through our veins. You two were married for forty-four years. He was your second husband. Even though you two get under each other’s skins, you would rather put up with minor bickering than to have your arm broken by another jealous man. All of his family lived in California and did not speak to him in years. You brought substance in his life with your stubbornness. The first time he asked you to marry him, you asked him something along the lines of, “What the hell do you want to get married for anyway?” He loved you for it. I know that you loved him, too. Now the home the two of you shared was only home to one. An empty shell of memories that will linger for the rest of his life. “How could they take her?” he cried to me. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry.
You were an exceptional woman. I held you to immortality. I was supposed to wake up and call you in the morning to see how you were recovering from your surgery. You would say that you weren’t doing okay, but you were managing. But I wasn’t going to get that call. While your were on the operating table, your heart began to tear apart like tissue paper. Within minutes, you were gone.
Please let me have one more conversation with you again.