I woke in the night with a deep sadness and an image that was slowly fading.
Leaning down, I had kissed my grandma. She was sitting on the chair that she always sat on in her kitchen, the one on the left when you came into the room. This seat gave her the best vantage point to greet people, and the large window overlooked her patio and into the neighbor’s back yard. Purple, white, and pink African violets lined her windowsill.
My grandmother and I were close. I stayed with her while I was going to college, roaring my 650 Honda motorcycle up onto her brownstone patio. After parking, I bounded in her house and up the three steps to her kitchen. I slept with her when she was confused to give her comfort and to make sure she didn’t wander away. One afternoon she told me that I should call my mother, see my family. I told her she wouldn’t say that if she knew the truth. She didn’t bring it up again.
I was at her side when she died. Holding her hand, telling her it was okay for her to go. Being with her while she was dying was a gift she gave me. It was me who called my mother and told her that grandma was gone. My mother had left hours earlier after telling me to call her when her mother had passed. Same as I told my siblings when our mother was dying.
I recognized that the deep sadness I woke with comes from not having close ties to familial people. There were a number of aunts and uncles I had felt close to growing up. That is gone. Some, through death. Some by my choice to not remain close.
Since House of Fire has been published, I’ve been unfriended on Facebook by all of my siblings. I have watched them drop away one by one.
I have no regrets. As a writer, if you really want to write about what’s important, meaningful, and to be a change in the world, you have to write what is yours to write. Mine has been to write the unspoken.
I had to be true to myself and to the parts of me that has lived the unspeakable.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t sadness and a sense of great loss. That is just as real as the telling.