Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sophia's Story

May There Be Sunrise

I took a glance at the sea of people surrounding me. Some were crying hysterically, others seemed like they had a permanent frown plastered on their faces. The thing is, most people would react this way whenever they lose someone or something they really care about, but not me. I don’t even remember the last time I shed a tear or felt that emotional kind of pain. I’ve never felt heartbroken to a point where it’s as if your heart is being ripped out. Although the lack of emotions made my life dull, I see it as an advantage most people don’t have due to the complications your feelings lead to.   

Standing here with the people who claim to be my family, I stared at the brown casket that held the lifeless body of my grandmother. It did make me feel like a bad person when I didn’t even feel a hint of sadness. I do wish that I could feel what others felt about her death. I wished that I felt some kind of emotion but unfortunately, I didn’t. I felt as if people saw me as this cold-hearted monster but judging by the way I was handling this tragic funeral, I couldn’t agree more.

Tear stained faces along with sobs and prayers were everywhere but nobody stood out more than the person who just lost the love of his life, my grandfather. No sobs were heard from him, not even a shed of tear. He held onto a necklace that must’ve been my grandmother’s and stared longingly as the casket was lowered into the hole. I could tell he felt empty, not because he didn’t feel anything towards her death but because he was overwhelmed with so many emotions. See, that’s the difference between him and I, he felt too much while I felt none.

The day ended when distant relatives and close family friends bid their goodbyes and left my grandfather’s house. As insensitive as it sounded, I couldn’t wait to get home and read the books that were piled up in my room. Sadly, my plans of spending my summer holiday reading were foiled when I heard the words that made me more uncomfortable than it should.

“You’re staying with your grandfather, just until he’s able to cope with the loss. He’s having a hard time right now, please understand,” my mother said firmly.

I went back to my grandfather, along with a month’s worth of clothes and entertainment which mostly consisted of books. I exchanged goodbyes with my parents and muttered a simple `I love you’. In all honesty though, I’ve never really felt like I loved my parents. I always felt like I was obligated to say those three overused words just because they raised me and cared for me. I’ve yet to experience the bond that every that child seemed to have between their parents. The relationship where you’re able to talk about topics other than your progress in school or how their two week trip went.

I was greeted with the open arms of my grandfather at the door. After showing me my royal blue painted room, we both had tea. It was quiet for a while, just sips of tea and the sound of biscuit crumbs falling onto the yellow ceramic plate. My grandfather looked up and smiled, asking me about how my day went and I, just to be polite, asked about his day. He told me stories of his old days, how it was love at first sight when he saw my grandmother and his adventure towards his golden years. He also proceeded to recommend me books to read and promised to watch his favourite movies with me.

The rest of the day was filled with laughter and smiles from both parties, something I haven’t experience in such a long time. I have never felt so alive and full of energy and it was only the first day. It was also odd how my smiles were caused by my grandfather’s loud, lively chuckle but I just brushed it off. We both went to the backyard and watered the beautiful, fresh flowers. There, my grandfather told me the secret to an amazing garden which was love. Although it was a common advice, he further explained that to love your garden is to care for it and meet its needs because love is something that everyone longs for. He kept saying that even the most stubborn people need a little love. I stared at him with disbelief, wondering how someone could feel so strongly about love when love itself is the main source of pain. That night, I couldn’t sleep with my grandfather’s words constantly on my mind. I wondered what love felt like. I wondered what it was like to feel pain, to feel happiness and even fear. I wished that I could love someone with all my heart, cry my eyes out, laugh loudly because it felt tingly inside or have my hands shake due to nervousness. Why couldn’t I feel anything? Why couldn’t I cry when my grandmother died, why couldn’t I sincerely say `I love you’ to my parents? I must’ve blacked out because I woke up to the sun shining through the thin fabric of the curtains and the delicious smell of what seemed like pancakes.

The next two weeks were spent watching old, classic movies my grandfather loved and latest movies which I recommended. We also spent a lot of time at a nearby park where we fed the birds and ate homemade sandwiches I volunteered to make. Within that one week, I’ve learned a lot of things about my grandfather. I found out how he hated vegetables but only ate them because his late wife begged him to. He also played the piano a long time ago and found the word ointment quite funny. He was also a stubborn old man who insisted that he didn’t require any help but I noticed him coughing in his room more than usual and his increasing struggle to even walk from the front door to the garden. Nevertheless, he had a strong character that never failed to surprise me. I found myself worrying about him a little more each day and I seemed to always look forward to our conversations. I also remember the little things he enjoyed and tried to make sure he got those things. I realized that this was something new and the thought of me doing these things scared me because I’ve seen this in movies and the characters in the movies always seemed to get hurt. Which was why the next day, I avoided such feelings and only gave my grandfather short replies. The plan backfired though because the day wasn’t as joyful as the others. It felt like I was back home with my parents who I never seem to see but it was better this way, wasn’t it?

Later that night, I saw my grandfather’s handkerchief covered with blood but he was nowhere to be found. So many thoughts ran in my head and they were not satisfying. Blood never leads to happiness. Never. I was walking past the glass window when I saw a glimpse of him sitting on one of the chairs in the garden. I approached him slowly and cleared my throat.

“It has gotten worse,” He said blankly as he stared at the stars above us.
Pneumonia. That’s what he had. His children knew but he begged them to keep it a secret from everyone else. He admitted to me that night and told me that with his old age and his health problem that he only had a small chance of recovering from, he was not going the last any longer in this world. I blinked a few times before meeting his sad, truthful eyes. He hasn’t looked this way since the funeral. My throat felt dry and my eyes started to sting. My heart felt like it was going to burst and my lips were trembling. I slowly backed away before turning around, heading towards my room.

I sat on my bed and stared at my lap remembering the last two weeks. He was the only person who cared for me that much. The only person who knew that I couldn’t stand pickles or that I loved eating Nutella on its own. I remembered the values he taught me, how loving someone is the best present you could ever give. I remembered the way his eyes would twitch whenever he was focused or how he liked to hum an unfamiliar tune on our way to the park. Suddenly, a strange sound came out of my mouth. I froze and touched my cheeks, feeling a wet trail that went from my eyes down to the corner of my chin. My heart was beating fast and that’s when I lost it. My heart felt like it was slowly being ripped out. Was this what being sad feels like or was this beyond sad? Was I getting my heart broken? My hands couldn’t stop shaking and sobs just came out even when I tried to stop it. I was angry that he didn’t tell me earlier, I was sad that he was sick and I couldn’t do anything about it but I was happy because for the first time in a long time, I actually felt something. I actually had feelings.

Right in the middle of my emotional state, I heard a knock and an old man with a small smile which, I noticed didn’t reach his eyes, came in. I cried once again knowing that one day, I wouldn’t be able to look him or talk to him. I knew that he wasn’t going to live forever. I knew that, but I’ve just learnt to care for this man.

He sat next to me and held my hand, “I love you. You know that right?”

“I-I love you too. I hope you know that.” Although it was hard to finally say those three words, it felt good to actually mean it with all my heart because I truly did care for this man.

We went to the park the next day as it was a routine. No words were exchanged and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was happy, I know was. Happiness, from what I’ve learned, is when your heart flutters and you can’t stop smiling. It’s usually times you’ll always remember. A cough that came from my grandfather startled me, reminding me that one day, I will lose the first person I’ve ever loved but that’s okay because death in inevitable. I squeezed his hand as a sign of support. 

I realized that although he may not live forever, what he has done to me will always be treasured because now, as I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, my life seemed brighter than it was before and because of him, it will continue to get brighter each day.

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