She died. My grandmother. On March 4th 2015, my 25th birthday. She died. I was not there because I had moved my life to Barcelona less than a week before. I did not know because by some strange chance I had received my new spanish sim card, cementing my intention to be here, and in my excitement had changed it straight away unknowingly halting any messages from finding me. In the end Facebook told me the news. The day after my birthday I was scrolling through my news feed having thanked all those people who had taken the time to wish me happy birthday – an ever dwindling list – and I caught sight of a status a cousin had posted: “RIP to my grandmother the strongest woman I have known”. Part of me thought she was referring to her other grandmother, the one we do not share. But then I remembered that my grandmother has been dying for a while now. It was her.
I asked my sisters, “Did I really find out grandmummy is dead from Facebook?”, and most importantly “Is it true?”. Yes. Sorry but nobody could get through to you on your birthday. Whilst they were all converged in my grandmother’s room in my aunty’s house, next to her freshly dead body, I was frolicking around Barcelona looking forward to starting a new life here and contemplating what my 25th year would bring me. I had missed the event.
Her body is not fresh anymore. Its been on ice for a month waiting for the church calendar to be freed up after the Easter festivities. Soon they will hold her funeral and put her in the ground and I will miss it. This is a decision within my control but one I have made nonetheless; for selfish reasons, out of fear. I don’t want to return home to inter my grandmother who died once that day and not again. I’m not sure what a funeral has to offer me, closure, solace, companions in grief? I’m not even sure I experienced grief. As if in missing the event of her passing I had missed the time to grieve. Part of me believes the grandmother who I knew is not the same as the grandmother who is no longer tied to her failing body and this other grandmother doesn’t need to a funeral to be dead, nor a soft bed in the ground to be in peace. I believe she found it in the moments before her last breath left this world. She found her peace when she escaped the pain of her body by shedding this life. And as she lingered between the realms of here and the beyond she called out to her own mother whilst her children looked on.
There she found peace. I am left to believe that whilst it may be my grandmother’s funeral it is not for her; she will be the last person in that congregation seeking solace in our being there. The funeral is for us, the spectators. So that we can be witness to the life that was lived and say that we saw it. And we take comfort in the knowing that when we die we too will be remembered, because what is more scary to any living person than the idea of nobody knowing you had existed in the first place, that eventually you shall be forgotten? The dead do not fear.