My grandmother died on July 30th, 2012.
I learned this at 5:44 in the morning, when the buzzing in my ear turned into my phone ringing, and my phone ringing turned into my mother’s voice and my mother’s voice was careful and controlled and calm.
“Grandmom died 10 minutes ago.”
My mom said more things to me that I do not remember.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” All I could think was: don’t fall back asleep. Listen. Grandmom is dead. Don’t fall back asleep.
My mom asked if I was okay, again.
“Nah. I’m fine.”
She said more things but when it sounded like she was done talking I said “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, honey.” She hung up and I told my wife what had happened.
I realized I wasn’t completely back asleep when I could hear my wife beating a soft metronome with her breaths. I was worried about work. My grandmother was dead and I was worried about work. I was really worried.
I didn’t want to. Go to work, that is. That day, that is. I also didn’t want to be worried about going to work. This is more important than that. Your parents need you. Your family needs you. What else do you have in this world? Well, what will they work on without you? At work, that is. Today, that is. If you don’t go in, that is. Especially with what’s been going on lately. Will they work? Family comes first. They’ll probably work. Should I go in? I don’t want to. My grandmother died. But what about work? That situation is tough. In this sleepy cycle of justification I lost sight of the fact that my grandmother, a woman who has had a beating heart for 90 years and 9 months, was dead. Her heart had stopped beating. Her brain no longer worked. Her kidneys stopped disposing of waste. Her liver stopped filtering blood. Her spleen stopped doing whatever spleens do. She had stopped breathing. The one way that I knew how to relate to her was gone, forever, when the breathing stopped.
I decided I wouldn’t go in to work when my first alarm went off.