Monday, August 19, 2013

The Reality of Dark Navy Vinyl

"Do you want to see her?," asked Mom.

What an odd question, I thought, but whether it was out of morbid curiousity or mere obligation, I followed my mother down the twenty-foot hall, veered slightly to the right and entered the room.

The room had not changed since my last visit twelve hours prior. Twizzler wrappers, soda cans, and water bottles were scattered throughout, sitting on counters and end tables. Shoes slid under chairs and overnight bags pressed against the wall. Afghans and pillows were strewn here and there from where my mother and aunt had attempted to sleep the night before. Evidence of our five day stay in this grim place.

The center of the room was the last place I wanted to look. I knew that if I looked where I didn't want to look, then everything that had transpired over the last few hours had really happened, and I was afraid that realization may bring the room and the world crashing in around me. But Fate is cruel and my eyes eventually found their way to the center of the room.

There she lay, still as undisturbed water. Peaceful and yet strangely uneasy. Or maybe it was my uneasiness. Her eyes were closed and her arms were gently draped across her stomach. The inevitable had finally reached us. Childishly, I thought maybe, just maybe, she was just sleeping, like I had seen her do so many times before during football games and family gatherings as she would doze in and out. Childishly, I thought she would wake up, swearing she hadn't been asleep. But deep down I knew, this time, she wouldn't wake.

Standing a few feet back, afraid to get to close to reality, I watched my mother take her mother's lifeless hand, while tears welled in her eyes. I stood there motionless, except for my nervously twitching fingers. "She went peacefully," Mom sighs. I nod.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, we left the room, walked back down the hall and into the waiting room. The funeral home had come to start the arrangements made days before. They walked down the twenty-foot hall, veered slightly to the right, and entered the room.

Fifteen minutes later, the funeral director quietly rolled the stretcher down the hall. The last sight I saw that day of my grandmother was that of the dark navy vinyl of the body bag.

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