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The family phone rings relentlessly for at least four minutes because there was no one in the room to respond. I finally enter the parlor and pick it.

It was from the hospital. The unknown speaker said, “I am calling from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I have been requested to inform any member from the house to come at the facility as soon as possible.” The speaker called off the conversation without letting me inquire anything.

I take a minute to ponder why the person called. I inform my mother who was busy attending to the flower garden and she says “Maybe it is about grandma. She has been at the facility for the past week and her progress is so slow. I know they want to brief us about her condition.”  

We hurriedly prepare ourselves and speed off to the facility. No one talks to the other until we pass by a fueling station. It is the only time my mom asks me to open the window to let in more air. I notice she is restless all the way and as we near the petrol station I see sweat droplets on her forehead. I have never seen her so disturbed and I know something is wrong. The conversation with the attending at the fueling station is brief and the car speeds offs nearly hitting a nearby phone booth that stands at the exit of the fueling station.

We reach the hospital at around half past noon and both my mother and I cannot wait to hear why the facility makes such an urgent call. We introduce ourselves and the attendant directs us to what she calls “Ward 8A” or what she also refers to the “Private Wing” as we finalize our interaction with her. The attendant who I think is the receptionist is calm and composed. My mother tries to inquire from her why the hospital makes such an urgent request but she does not rush into speculations. I even try to find out from her if anything bad may have happened to my grandmother who is receiving care at the center, but she does not show any sign of pessimism. She only encourages us by saying “The hospital makes many of such calls considering the nature of its services and the urgency with which it has to treat certain issues.” Her response does not give much hope but we march towards where she directs us.

“Please make way we are heading to the Private Wing.” I tell some people who stand by the main gate leading to the specialized facility. Everybody seems to be busy and I can hardly identify anyone who is happy or smiling. All I can see is seriousness and fading hope. I try as much as possible to keep up with my mum who appears to be running but is actually walking. She cannot wait to hear the news. We finally arrive at a large ward labelled “Ward 8A” and I suddenly lose the vigor and strength to move further. I come to the facility quite often to visit grandma since her hospitalization but I have never felt this tense. I notice the fear in my mom but I realize that she does not want to show it openly.

We meet two nurses at entry of the ward and ask them if we could proceed to Mrs. McWright’s room. They hesitate before answering and one of them appears to be frightened by the simple question. The other asks us to wait by the waiting bay as she makes some inquiries. She returns after about two minutes and asks us to follow her. The formality was contradictory to what usually happens when someone comes to visit their loved ones. “Come in.” She says as we reach the room.

“Thank you.” We respond with my mother in harmony.

The room was unusually full. I could notice a few of my uncles and relatives. I can also notice some people who appear to be special practitioners because of their unique hospital attire. Some of my nieces are sobbing and my uncles are not happy either. Throbbing forward we see grandma lying on her bed with a white sheet covering her entire body. A man standing next to me says in a low tone, “She passed on a few minutes past nine.”

The realization of my grandmother’s death hits me like a rock falling from the space. I become feeble and unable to utter anything. I sob but try to contain myself to avoid creating any unnecessary scenes. However, I cannot control my mother who is crying loudly and almost wailing. She feels as if her world has come to an end because to her she has lost a caring and loving mother. My aunt moves closer and tells her “Take heart my dear, she has gone to rest with the angles.”

“Oh Lord! Why is this happening to me? Why Lord my God?” My mother keeps on asking as she cries bitterly.

The period as we await grandma’s burial is not an easy time for me. I lose nearly all my senses and become so irresponsive. In one incident, I cannot hear my friends ringing the doorbell because of the deep thoughts and pain that I experience. They say after I open “We have stood at the door for nearly five minutes. We almost gave up and returned if it were not for the loud TV that made us know that someone is around.” The console with me and offer words of encouragement as it would happen during any other of such incidences. I get some slight reprieve from the encouragement I get from the many visitors who throng our home during the period but I know that their nice and warm talking would not restore my grandmother’s life.

“I neither want to eat nor drink.” I tell my mother one afternoon when she invites me for lunch.

“You will die yourself from hunger if you continue this way and we may have the burden of burying two people.” She says lightly after noticing my refusal to eat for some days after the demise of grandma.

The burial came so fast.

“I want you to look smart during the event my dear.” My mother tells me on the day of burying grandma.

“I do not want to look smart because grandma is not around to appreciate me as she always does when I wear an attractive dress.”

“Come on, she will appreciate you wherever is now, remember that Christians believe in life after death, or don’t you?” My mother says confidently.

I try to be confident during the burial reassuring myself that all will be well. The pastor speaking at the event gives me more encouragement with his sermon. He says “The Lord has a better plan for all of us. He knows how he God Lord wants to accomplish them. Death,” the pastor proceeds” is a transition through which Christians get to meet the Lord.”

I do not know why I pay much attention to the sermon but it rekindles some form of hope in me. I say to myself “Maybe it is true grandma is with the Lord now.”

Seeing grandmother descending to the grave sends shockwaves and chills all over my body. I almost feel numb in my legs and excuse myself to sit at a nearby chair before my weak legs become unable to support my weight that appears to have doubled at that very instance. I cry bitterly and see other people doing the same. Many of those who stand at the graveyard appear sad and some of them can hardly control the tears dropping from their eyes. The moment reminds me of the vital impact grandma had on many people and how her death will leave a substantial gap that would be difficult to fill.

“I feel much stronger.” I say to myself that evening as I sit in my room looking at the ceiling.

“I am determined to fulfill grandma’s desires and aspirations.” I continue to encourage myself and not to let the past incident deter me.

“I am a Christian and the Holy Bible teaches us to be strong and optimistic no matter how hard things are.” I finally consult myself before lying on the bed trying to catch some sleep but with considerable difficulty.  

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