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
Nothing’s wrong little girl.
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
And then the sun sets and it’s
April 5, 2018.
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
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.
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
It’s too dangerous for her to be outside of her home so
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
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”
“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.