“Camilla, your grandmother passed away this morning.”
My mom spoke very softly with a look of concern in her green eyes. At first I was at a loss for words; after that came the flood of tears. I’d known that my grandmother had cancer and that she did not have many weeks left, but the news of her death hit me like a freight train.
My father had flown across the Atlantic to be with her the week before. Here I was — with my brother and mother — stuck on the other side of the hopelessly large pond, missing her funeral. And I couldn’t even say goodbye.
I had written her a letter that my father had carried to her, and inside it I had attached an old brooch. It was white with a spray of cheery roses on it. I wanted to give something back to her; although it could never come close to all that she’s given me.
I wanted more than anything to be able to go to her funeral. I wanted to be able to mourn with the rest of my family, and I wanted to hear funny stories about her.
I talked to my father on the phone that afternoon.
“How are you?” he asked.
“I’m all right,” I said. “How are you?”
His voice came scratchy and raw. He choked when he talked about her body because it broke him to think of his mother as lifeless. I wish I could have been on the other side of the phone line to hug my grieving father.
It comforts me that my abuela is not suffering. She is not in pain, but she is not here. In many ways, I’m happy that she is not sick anymore, but I’d give anything to have said goodbye. I’m thankful for all the moments I had with her.
Grief is like a vast ocean: waves of sadness, loss, and regret crash over you. You hold onto the warm memories for dear life, like a raft. I hold on. I know that I won’t drown, and I know that I’ll make it, but I miss her. And I’m mourning.
Mourning from miles away.