By Jemma Clarke ‘24

It’s July 8, 2004 and I’m two years old,

sitting on Grandma’s lap and crying.

She’s reading me a story, but I can’t


sit still.


Nothing’s wrong little girl.

Everything’s fine.

And then suddenly it’s not because

It’s April 4, 2018

and Grandma’s not doing too well.

I’m fifteen and scared because she’s in an ICU

and I’m at school.

Five thousand four hundred and fifty-four miles away.

You worry in that moment

if you’ll ever get to say

I’m sorry.
Thank you.

And then the sun sets and it’s

April 5, 2018.

She’s fine.

Well, more fine.

But Grandad has to call you back,

something he’s heard from you too many times because,

“I’m busy right now, but I promise I’ll call you later.”

Until later is trying to cry quietly so your sister doesn’t hear.

But before you know it, it’s

April 8, 2018 and Grandma has to learn to talk again.

And writing is impossible

even though she loves it

so much.

She spent her whole life teaching others

and now she has to relearn all of it.

After months of hard work that I don’t get to see it’s

August 6, 2019.

I’m on my way to Grandma’s house and terrified.

What if I don’t recognize the person in the wheelchair?

What if she’s just a shell of what was there before?

Yes. No. And sometimes she’ll confuse the two.

That’s it. That’s all she can say.

She’ll never read me another story.

And I never sat still.

But now that’s all she can do.

Sit still.




But she’s still there,

the same loyalty to her favorite football team

the same stubborn shouts about how dinner should be made

the same loving stares and cheek kisses.

And just when she finally wants to leave the house again

she can’t.

It’s too dangerous for her to be outside of her home so

she sits

and watches

and listens

and does it all over again tomorrow.

And then it’s

January 28, 2021.

She’s been inside

and worn a mask.

But it doesn’t matter now because

she’s sick.

Fake oxygen being pumped through her lungs.

Lungs that use to breathe life into every story.

Until finally it’s

February 23, 2021 and I’m at work.

My dad texts and says “give me a call when you can”

I know.

“Unfortunately, your Grandma has passed away”

The world stops for one moment

and then starts up again.

No time to cry.

No time to stop.

No time to say goodbye.

I Love You to Paris and Back

Isabel Thornton ‘21