I received the news at around 3:10pm Eastern time as my parents had just left to work and as I was about to head down to my boyfriend’s apartment to visit him. The phone rang downstairs, and I could barely hear it as my dad had disconnected the one upstairs earlier that day.
It was Wednesday March the 8th; Women’s day. I ran into the room where the phone is and as I noticed the cord was unplugged, I plugged it back in just as the phone started to ring again. I picked up, and it was Uncle Ivan. Right there I knew there was something wrong.
I asked him how everything was and he said “Not so good. I have some very bad news to give you, so sit and hold on tight.” I asked what had happened and then he delivered the worst news of all: Grandma had passed away at around 2:30pm Caracas time. It had just happened… My uncle gave me a cell phone number in case we needed to get in touch, he asked me to let my parents know what had happened, and he also said he would call later to check on my mom.
Too much information for my brain to digest at once. At first I did not react. I felt sad and empty but didn’t cry. I guess I just couldn’t believe it. I’m strong, so I just thanked him for calling as my hands started to shake and as I could barely hang the phone up. Her death was so sudden….. So I called my parents at once; they were at the store. They both happened to pick up the phone at the same time, so I delivered the news to both of them at the same time as my voice was breaking down and as I started to cry. With me, my parents started to cry too and the feelings I had at the moment were simply indescribable. I could barely hear my mom say “I couldn’t see her one last time,” which are the words that I’ve been repeating to myself ever since yesterday.
I hung up and it was time to call my sister. I tried her number and my brother picked up on the other side. I couldn’t tell him the news so I asked her to please put me through with my sister. She sounded happy as she usually does… Then I had to tell her and her tone obviously changed. She also started to cry as she broke down emotionally. I could hear my brother crying on the back as Sandra told him the news.
I was only able to send a few text messages to my closest relatives and friends. Then my cell phone started to ring as people started to call, and then it started to vibrate as some people text messaged me back. Then my house phone also started to ring but I was too disturbed to pick it up and talk to anyone. I just lied into my bed crying in the loneliness of my room as I listened to Yanni’s music in the background. I couldn’t help but to keep crying for our loss and for the fact that I didn’t get to see her just one more time before she left…. My boyfriend was on his way. I couldn’t drive as I was… They were the most endless 40 minutes of my life… He finally made it to my house and kept my company for the rest of the day.
It was July 2001 when I last saw my grandma. She came to visit us in our new house in the states. This house. Back then we had just moved in 5 days prior to her arrival. She spent the whole summer with us, and it still seems like it was yesterday. I can still remember her walking up and down the stairs as she listened to her “learn-how-to-speak-English” cassettes. At the time she didn’t even know about CD’s or Discman’s. That was almost 5 years ago…. It had been almost 5 years since I was last able to see her and I feel like it is not fair that I didn’t get to see her again. Then again it’s not like I didn’t go see her because I didn’t want to. I just can’t travel and couldn’t for the past 5 years. I was supposed to do that within two weeks before leaving to Spain but she didn’t make it….
Her death was sudden and unexpected. That is supposed to make it better in the sense that at least she didn’t suffer. She had hypertension problems and apparently she had been feeling worse ever since last Sunday. My Aunt Lilian is a doctor and she had been checking on my grandma every day. Her house is almost right next to my grandma’s as they live in the same block and the same piece of land in the middle of the woods. Grandma had been taking her medicine, my aunt had been taking her tension every day and she even offered to hospitalize grandma, but old grandma refused. She hated doctors with a passion and she said that it was something temporary that would go away soon.
My aunt obviously did not see this coming and we have never questioned her good judgment. If she had ever imagined this could happen, even if it was a slight possibility; she would have certainly had my grandma hospitalized against her will if necessary; especially since Aunt Lilian has a very tough temper and character when it comes to these things and everything else. It didn’t seem so serious, and I guess that’s why she let it be. I just hope she’s not blaming herself now for not having followed the recommended procedure. It obviously wasn’t her fault.
So grandma got into a crisis that morning. She was taken to the hospital and made it to it alive, but suffered a stroke as she was being taken to the emergency room. Sudden and unexpected. Harder to accept and assimilate. Harder to understand when you don’t see it coming…
She was a very strong woman; she gave birth to 11 healthy children; my mom being the first child and older daughter. Then 5 more sisters and 5 more brothers were born in a curious pattern. They were born alternating one boy and then one girl; one right after the other. No two girls in a row and no two boys in a row. What are the chances of giving birth to 11 children following that pattern?
My grandma was special and one of a kind, just like all grandmas are for her grandchildren. She was strong and wise; she was spiritual and inspiring. I will always remember the taste of her delicious meals; her hallacas, her soups, her handmade rice and pasta pastries that she used to prepare with left overs. I will always remember the taste of the delicious juices she prepared. She used to make weird combinations of bananas, cantaloupes and oranges. I will always remember her voice, her words, her smile and how happy she was every time she got to see all her children get together at her country house.
I will always remember how she would make me eat my carrots saying that they were good for my sight if I ever wanted to get rid of my ugly glasses. I will always remember how she would let me eat all the olives I wanted saying that they were good for my brain. I can still feel her warm kisses on my forehead, her hugs and her smell. I will always remember her prayers, and the amulets she used to give me. I will always have with me that yellow piece of paper that she sent me just a few months ago after I sent her that photo album full of recent pictures of me, my siblings and my parents; and how she said she was thankful and how she told me she was proud of me and so happy for my gesture and so happy about me being so special to her…. That is the only piece of paper I have with her handwriting, so I guess it is the most valuable thing that I have from her other than her teachings.
I will always remember that day at the park when I was very very little and how it was raining and how grandma and I got under this huge cylinder laying on the floor just to wait until the sky cleared up. That was the same day when I saw the image of Virgin Mary and that was the day I started believing in miracles. Ever since then I’ve never questioned supernatural events, just because in my head that was so real and that felt so real that it doesn’t matter anymore whether I dreamt of it or whether I lived it through. Now, I will see my grandma in every rainbow; just because she was the most colorful person in this world. I will remember her in all my prayers, just because she taught me how to pray.
How can I forget her when she’s everywhere? So she left this world as I’m about to leave this house… But the memories I have from her and her days visiting here, those I’ll take with me…
Besides my boyfriend, a couple friends came to visit me yesterday afternoon. They made me feel better as they were close to me giving me support. I got distracted for a little while and tried to put myself together for the period of time they were here. I thought they did not deserve to see me crying and depressed. I thought it wouldn’t make things better if I kept crying. I had already cried enough and I’m sure my grandma wouldn’t have liked to see me like that. Then my friends left, and I felt a little down again, but my boyfriend was still there, was still patient, was still supportive, was still lending me a shoulder to lean on and cry upon.
I truly appreciate the support that they all gave me and feel sad for the people who knew about it but were not there for me. That was the best proof that I could ever get of who my true friends are, and that was the last thing I needed to realize that my world doesn’t extend over my boyfriend, close family and a couple of close friends…
And what now? My mom is not traveling. This is the worst timing for this to happen as we’re moving out and supposed to leave the house within 4 days. My mom says there’s nothing she can do right now, and that she would rather keep the nice memories she has of my grandma. She says she doesn’t want to go through the whole bad experience of going there and see everyone we had not seen in 5 years grieving. Grandma is just gone and seeing a black box that carries her body inside is not going to make up for the time we didn’t see her alive. I want to go badly; I do want to be there for the funeral and everything else, but I just can’t travel. If I do it is most likely that they won’t let me back into the states and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take just yet.
Anyway, I hope I can go see the rest of my relatives soon. It’s very hard to have to deal with the distance, and it’s hard to accept that relatives go and I don’t even get the chance to see them. It’s hard to deal with new relatives being born without me even knowing their faces or names. My mom is doing much better today. Fortunately we have enough stuff going on with the moving to keep our minds busy, and that should help a little. It’s never easy to deal with the death of a loved one, especially when it’s sudden, when you are away and when you haven’t seen that person in a long time. It makes u feel like crap…. However, we have to keep living, we have to keep going on and our hearts will always be together anyway and that’s what matters.