Thursday, March 11, 2010


The shower is a good place to cry, all this moisture. No, it’s the warmth, the escape, the alone in my body with all this moisture. I’m crying because maybe my grandmother is about to die, that’s what my sister thinks. That’s what my mother told her, although she left me a different message, she said: Rose can’t say very much but she seems to understand. She definitely can’t talk on the phone right now, though, so that’s why I’m not leaving her number.

I guess it makes sense that my mother would leave my sister a different message, a message that said come, come now, because my mother knows that I can’t really do that. I mean I could do that, but taking the plane would destroy me. It’s also possible that my grandmother isn’t about to die -- a year or two ago, one of the times when my grandmother fell, my mother thought she was about to die, but then she got better.

I’m thinking about what it would mean if I wasn’t able to say goodbye in person. How much would that hurt? Would it be better or worse than the pain of taking a plane, taking a plane and maybe canceling all my other plans for travel in the next month: the film screening in Seattle, LA to visit my sister, Santa Fe to see if I want to move there.

If my grandmother is dying, I could go to Baltimore after Santa Fe, I could take the train to Chicago and then from Chicago to Baltimore. That probably makes the most sense, except my sister thinks my grandmother might die now, I guess one of the doctors says she might only have a few weeks. She needed an operation that she didn’t want, but she agreed to it because they said otherwise she would die, but now there’s fluid in her lungs and they wanted to do a second operation but she’s refused it.

Maybe she wants to die. I know she said before that she didn’t want any more operations, that more pain wasn’t worth it. She’s 93 or maybe even older, sometimes it seems like she moves her age back a bit, but definitely she’s at least 93. She’s outlived her husband and her only son, all of her brothers and even their wives. The one thing she wants to do is to spend more time in the studio so she can make more art; if she survives, she might not be able to do that anymore. That might mean that she doesn’t want to survive.

Rose meant a lot to me as a kid, she was the only person around me that built her life around art: I thought it was everything to her, and maybe that meant it to could be everything to me. It wasn’t everything to her; when I decided to leave college, she told me that if she could do it all over again she would have finished. She might have even said: instead of becoming an artist. I felt like she was renouncing her whole life in order to get me to change my mind: status and respectability were more important to her than my autonomy or dreaming. Later, I felt betrayed in many other ways too -- she wanted me to take out my earrings when I was around her; she didn’t like the way people looked at me, which meant that I should change; she wanted me to make up with my father. Now, when we talk on the phone, mostly she wants to tell me that everything I’m doing is wrong.

Still, all of this can’t erase the place she still inhabits in my heart, that place where a glimpse at the light shining behind shadow can make me hopeful, at least for a moment, what was it that I was looking at earlier? Oh, those pale green leaves against the peach building: if my grandmother and I were closer, I would call her all the time and say listen, you won’t believe this color combination. And she wouldn’t tell me that I must not want to get better, otherwise I would try Lyrica.

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