About a month and a half ago, my grandmother passed away.

I don’t think it really hit me until today that she’s truly gone.

Being a kid who has spent the last four and a half years on the other side of the world from her family, I am supremely used to not seeing my family for months even years at a time. So when I came back to Korea, I didn’t really think twice of not seeing my grandmother.

For the last six-weeks, I didn’t really think about my grandmother except on the first couple of days. It didn’t feel like she was gone; I just was away from home.

The last time I saw my grandmother was December of 2012 or January of 2013. It’s hard to remember to be honest. It was a sucky feeling because I visited her at hospice, and I don’t think she really recognized me. On some level, my grandmother died a long time ago, when she lost the ability to really remember who I was.

Maybe even longer than that. She stopped being my grandmother when she had her second stroke when I was in middle school and lost the ability to really communicate and spend quality time with me. I’m not sure.

Today, my mother and I drove up to the cemetery where my grandmother is buried. I hate cemeteries. Whenever I see them, I think of bodies trapped laid to rest in coffins. It genuinely freaks me out to be standing so close to so many bodies. I looked at the freshly made mound that signified my grandmother’s peaceful rest.

I couldn’t tell if I started to shake because of the cold or because I was upset. Probably a little bit of both.

My mom said to say hello to my grandmother. I stood there, clutching myself, not sure of what to do.

“So, do I talk to her like I would if I were praying?”

My mom nodded and gave me some space.

I genuinely stood there for a couple minutes with nothing to really say. I was upset and uncertain. It had been years, maybe even a full decade since I last had a quality conversation with my grandmother.

It was eerily quiet. No one else was around, and my mom left me alone to talk to the groundskeeper about grass or upkeep or something. I stood there alone trying to remember everything I had wanted to say to her, everything I knew about her, everything I shared with her.

All I could say was that I was sorry for being a crap granddaughter, for not visiting sooner/more often, for not taking the time to ask for her life stories, for avoiding her whenever I did visit, for getting annoyed by her strange habits, for generally not being there at all. It kind of broke my heart knowing that I would never ask her about her life, ask her about her best love, her most awful heartbreak, or her biggest triumphs.

I didn’t grow out of my bratty kid phase soon enough.

On the car ride to the cemetery, I had told my mom that I remembered when I was three or four, being at the cemetery. My grandmother was crying and telling me that the grave we were standing next to was her mother’s. I remember being so sad for her because I knew I would be sad if my mom died.

So as I stood in between my grandmother’s and my great-grandmother’s graves, I told my grandmother that I was glad she was finally reunited with her mother, finally at peace instead of suffering, finally in a better place than the stuffy hospice.

I told her I loved her and that I wished we had had more good days together.

Then I walked back to where my mom stood waiting for me, still clutching myself. I think I wanted to be held tightly or something, but I couldn’t formulate the language for what it was that I really wanted. I sat solemnly in the car, with the sadness weighing down my entire body.

All I can say is, if I could do it all over, I would have taken the time to get to know my grandmother’s story. Everybody should if they can.

Rest in peace, Grandma.



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