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My Grandmother Inay

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I’ve been back for weeks and now I look back and recall only fragments of the time spent in my hometown where my grandma (I call her Inay) lives. I went with no expectations and came back with so much … I haven’t talked about it because I really don’t know where to even start. I’ve told stories of no significance because I know there’s much inside I feel I need to keep for myself. I found my grandma all over again. Not a meal was missed together. I watched her walk into her room with her baby steps as she carried her brown stained glass with a plastic cap to keep away the flies. I checked in on her every time I passed by her room. I watched her sleep and touched her forehead to feel her warmth. I sat next to her to watch her pray and waited long enough in the hallway for her to look up to glance at me and smile. Her smile always took away my fear of losing her.

Since my visit, I feel overlapped between two places and two lives. When I hear myself talk to others … it feels extremely odd. It’s like listening outside of myself. It’s a feeling of déjà-vu of some sort … climbing over words or leaving out words because it felt as if I already know how it will end and so I was skipping as fast as I can to finish … so that I can be silent again. It feels good to be silent nowadays. I hear myself say “I’m glad to be home,” but now here I am sitting here doing what I did when I left.… My mind plays this game with me and I’m exhausted. I am wondering too much about what will happen. I use to live in the present and now I find myself getting ahead with fear of the future and the feeling of lost takes over. I fear losing everyone. I’m doing things but not getting anything done. I think I’m organizing my stuff and I stand at the end of the day finding that I’ve only displaced them and made everything worse. I feel I should isolate myself for a while or until I can recognize who I am again or who I am to become when my grandma moves on.

What I found in my grandma is my childhood, myself, and my future. Words cannot explain my respect for her. She is truly my Hera for life. A true, living Hera. She carries within her the very person I hope to be. She is someone I want to meet everyday.

It’s been seven months and some days since I last saw Inay. On August 26, 2006 she took her last breath, closed her eyes, and left our world. A rush of tears came flowing out and an uncontrollable blanket of grief and loss took over. Although expected and thousands of miles away, across an ocean, I felt such a loss that I found myself numb. I was delirious and all I could do was pace back and forth thinking of absolutely nothing I can make sense of. I wasted no time and, as planned, I went straight back to the Philippines to pay my respect.

The time on the plane dragged even though I was asleep most of the time. I felt I just couldn’t get to her fast enough. I thought I was ready to face what awaits me but when the car parked outside the house I saw the tent over the front yard and the condolence flowers stood one by one along the path leading up to the house. I opened the car door and suddenly found myself shaking uncontrollably and my heart pounded quickly and I could not breathe. Tears came and I sat in the car for a few minutes just crying like a baby. I forced myself out the car and I went inside the house. My footsteps were as heavy as lead. I approached her coffin and I looked at her face closer and closer until my own reflection showed. I looked at her again in detail trying to see any movement or sign hoping I would wake up and realize it was just another nightmare. What I saw instead was her sufferings in her lifetime. Her eyes showed deep concern for what she needed to leave behind. I’m still pondering life and death and if it’s possible for someone can truly or ever really comprehend the meaning of life, I just don’t know? There are so many words I want to get out and so many thoughts I need to unscramble but it might take my own lifetime to do so.

“We are all spirits having a human experience.”

 I helped organized her belongings, her cabinet was finally revealed but certain mystery was missing because it just wasn’t the same without her in front of it. As I folded her clothes I could smell her presence in all of them. Through her books of prayers I found signs of her acceptance that it was time to go home. A marked page on one of the books is written…

Dear Lord,

If it be your will, let me overcome the physical ailments which now bother me. Though tempted to do so, I do not ask for a long life and perfect health; with resignation I accept whatever you have in store for me. I offer you my heart and soul in all things. I offer you my pain and suffering for your honor and glory and early deliverance of the holy souls in purgatory. May I bear my cross cheerfully and act kindly and lovingly toward all during my illness. Amen.

I love that she still finds way to inspire me even from the other side of the world.


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