Thursday, October 16, 2008

to my grandmother, with love

in and
of dreams, last night,
thinking of you
and your skin
like weathered
watercolor paper, how
it so much
sounded like your voice,
frail, worn, and thin;
i could hear
how you smiled
at my happiness, but
with tears
rising from your throat,
through your eyes...
we don't have much
you told me last night,
lucidity seeping
from my skin,
as you lifted your shirt
to show me
where the strawberry patch
of scar tissue formed
over the wires
whitecoats inserted
to beat your weak heart.
and my hand to
your chest, you
looked at me
with tired eyes
and said you loved me,
that you always had,
no matter what
color my hair
or steel in my face,
and it was done,
you in your mountains
and me in a darkened,
frigid hotel room,
miles apart but
closer than ever.

i never knew my grandparents until about two years ago. they were always around but what i thought, in my selfishness, as generic. you know, the grandmother that bakes cookies and makes clothing, the grandfather that retired from war so long ago. it wasn't until i broke from my path of classicality that i understood they had loved me all along, that they were, in fact, some of my biggest fans.

my grandmother went in to the hospital four weeks ago because her pulse dropped to around 40 beats resting, and she was barely strong enough to walk to the kitchen from the living room, a mere 10 feet. we had talked earlier that day, and she had sounded so happy, so full of life. it never occurred to me she was faking, the same way i had before i let them know who i really was. what pretty pictures we paint, with colors crayola has never heard of.

i waited until she was strong enough to talk, which happened to be yesterday. i told her about the drive from cleveland to maryland, how the hills of virginia and pennsylvania looked like a beautiful painting with the colors of fall. and when she said goodbye, i could hear her voice swell with emotion as she said she was happy for me, that i was able to see all of the things that my grandfather and her have experienced three times over in my lifetime. her smile was pushed through her tears, and i could hear her pacemaker fuzzing through her chest into the phone. and when all was said and done and she said goodbye, i could do nothing but cry, because of how long i have waited to get to know her, and how soon it all may end.

love appears to us in different ways. i never thought my grandparents understood me and what i wanted to do with my life and my art, until i had nothing to show for myself but who i was. they stood by me when i was stripped of everything, even my immediate family. and still they have been the ones that seem most interested in what i do and who i am. they remind me that i will forever be a part of them, as they have always been a part of me. my dreams last night scared me, pushed me to a truth that i don't want to recognize... this life is frail and fragile, much like the love we find inside it.

value that, above anything else, because when we go, we're gone. there are no more chances to understand firsthand what shaped you before you were lurched into existence.


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