I've been on the verge of writing these words for the past three years but it was only this week that I had the certainty that I would be writing them down for sure. Don't know if this is a cathartic expression or just my brain trying to adjust to the chaos around me, so here I go.
Me and My Grandparents, circa 1984
My grannie died two days ago, for many people an event like this could be easily interpreted as life meeting the fair end of its journey after a really long time, for me is so much more than that.
We lived together for as long as I can remember and I can only describe her as a force of nature and the architect of core aspects of my personality. We shared a bond so tight and deep that is really hard to let her go. My father died when my life was starting and I have no memories of him, so my grandparents played a huge role helping my mother raising me. I cannot measure the impact of these events because not only I'm the result of them but because I am them.
She is/was my advisor, my personal fountain of knowledge and the guardian of my dreams and hopes. We were connected in levels that I haven't found in anyone else. The connection was there from the very beginning strengthened by fond memories like our roadtrips together. A moment for just the two of us and the open road, it was like two unsupervised kids taking over the world when nobody was watching.
I had always jokingly said that she is the one to blame for shaping me into this design-obsessed monster that I am. You'll see, she was a retired art and crafts teacher who formed my vision of the balance of form and function. Maybe she wouldn't have used those words but her understanding of things and the mechanisms that make those things possible by pleasing your eyes while fulfilling their objectives was there. She respected (and sometimes feared) my opinions as I did with hers but that was because we knew each other's set of standards so well.
I knew that I wanted to become a graphic designer since I was 12 but after high school I went to study Economics (to pursue a traditional career and to please my mother I guess) when I realized that despite the good grades I was losing myself there, I quitted Economics to pursue Graphic Design. I told her the news first to which she replied "I never said anything but I could never pictured you being happy with that career. I'm glad that you have made that choice."
Time magnifies everything when a retrospective is made, I had experienced a phenomenal childhood specially thanks to her perhaps that's why, in many ways, I refuse to grow up, with her passing I'm forced to move on, I'm not a kid anymore this is why I'm not only mourning her, I'm mourning my life as it was. She represented that part of my life.
When she became ill (not for a particular disease but because time is a relentless bastard that takes a heavy toll towards the end) I left everything on hold (my social life, my career.) We orbited around her, that's what you do when a person you love is in pain, nothing else matters. I'm not regretting that for a minute. The past month was the worst, but that so-called unit of measurement of time lacks of meaning when you count hours no with clocks needles but with sounds of breathing. You found yourself pleading for a merciful release and you hate yourself for that. Then what you have been fearing arrives.
She passed away silently in my mother's arms and I was there holding her hand. The rest from there is just a blur, a series of acts performed by an automaton and hollow voices repeating countless times the same predictable words with no echo in them. I feared that I was too numb, that all those unbearable images have left me incapable of feel a thing. Before the memorial service, as I returned home to pick a few things the key in the door jammed and I exploded, it felt horrible and reassuring at the same time. That was the proof I needed and it came in the least expected moment. It was like "there's your cue for a sigh of relief. see? you're not an automaton".
A dearly friend of mine said that I need to cling to the nicest memory of her, a no-brainer decision, but actually it's not that easy when the bad memories are fresh and seem to outnumber the nicest ones. So that's what I'm doing right now, I'm trying to map in my brain every shade of green I ever saw in her eyes.