I was small, splayed on the warm, sun soaked living room floor, lapping cornbread batter off a wooden spoon, and watching old Popeye cartoons. You read something in the paper and clucked aloud, not to anyone really, when your clock was up, you ain’t s’pectin lotta fuss. Even as a child, I knew that was silly. Too many people adored you. When your time to came to rest, there would be yellow roses, crying grandbabies, and the smell of heavy church ladies dressed in thick black.
I was wrong.
Who could have predicted this? A cold, grey, apocalyptic end. We’re living in science fiction. I sit alone in my car outside Fresno Community Hospital. I’m not allowed in. Not even to say goodbye. Vibrating from fury, urgency, and overwhelming sadness. Pain clawing my heart. I sit alone. Tears saturating this stupid mask covering my face. My screams muffled by the folds of the fabric. I will miss you so much.
On the radio, a celebrity reminds me to wash my hands and stay away from people, “We are in this together,” he chants, with practiced emotion. I despise him. You are not in this with me. With your vanity and boredom and privileged fences. You have not lost, like I am losing. You do not hurt, like I hurt.
Life will continue.
Spring is here. Today I opened the windows. A gust of dusty warm air swept through the stagnant drapes. A quartet of birds dared to sing in the old cherry tree outside the dining room widow. The things that remind us of the bitter cold are slowly packed away. Soon, the famous Fresno summer will bring cold watermelon, mosquitos, and maybe even a ballgame. Life will continue. But nothing is the same. I finished packing the last of your things for the donation truck. I’m keeping the wooden spoon. There’s talk of giving you a proper farewell. Once things get back to normal. It won’t happen. As time passes, people will need to look forward. You can’t blame them. Forgetting is less painful than remembering. Because that’s what we do.
--Tiffany B., Adult