the specters return.

sitting with my mother, i’ve been silently reading about my grandmother’s death. though i wrote those entries over six years ago, they’re poignant and prescient.

it seems disingenuous and lazy to merely offer links to the former posts, so i’ll do the next worst thing and reprint, minus a few melodramatic sentences about pain winding through the corridors of the heart, a large section that highlights the similarities.

in hospitals, the staff operates at twice normal speed, while everything else moves at a much slower rate than usual. the digital clocks display seconds to help our brains register that change. i trained my eyes on the wall, promising i wouldn’t look away until one second became the next. my contacts dried out and my sight worsened before anything happened. tenths and hundredths became palpable. molecules, heavy with unpleasant scents, hang everywhere, permeating clothes and hair, acting as constant reminders. is she squeezing my hand or is it a cruel trick played by imagination?

sometimes her eyes shone with recognition. she craned her neck to see the person who was talking, the corners of her mouth rising into a not-quite-smile, but at-least-not-frown.

please don’t think of me as terrible and selfish during the times i wanted to separate us, with the densest wall, when her eyes closed tightly until tears ran across her cheeks to her hair. she clenched her stomach and held her breath, the alarms sounding on the ventilator. a tracheostomy ensured that her words remained trapped. she mouthed replies to our questions; we pretended to hear answers, nodding in satisfaction, attempting to mask our thoughts.

i’m not sure where one goes from this point. might i, six years and three months in the future, be in the same position as my mother is in the present and her mother was six years and three months in the past? before anyone assures me that the pattern effects only females (by the way, you’re making my sister cry), i’ll point out that my maternal grandfather also died young, i just wasn’t old enough to document it.

albert camus began writing his autobiographical final novel the first man after visiting his father’s grave. the idea that he was older than his father had ever been struck him as perverse, as if he had now become his father’s father. it left him feeling isolated. he saw himself, like adam, as the origin of the species, whose creator was more a concept than anything else, an amalgamation of memories, some real, many imagined.

i’ve thought about how i’m assuming this role, as my maker’s maker, and how i owe it to her to be as accurate as possible in my recollections, even when it causes pain to wind through the corridors of my heart. again, narcissistically quoting myself:

suddenly every detail seems significant. it is unfortunate that real time doesn’t function by the same constraints as hospital time, allowing me to take notice.


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One Response to “the specters return.”

  1. in opposition to hagiography. | the vignettist Says:

    […] the remainder of her life and its impact on us. i felt obligated, as i’ve touched on in a previous post, to present the facts unedited, to express the pain and joy in honest — and believable […]

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