Be ye warned, here be a sad one. You’ll probably figure it out before you get to the end, but it’s my story and I don’t know how else to tell it.
The girl looked up from her aimless doodles at her father’s approach. He had to weave his way through the scattering of wooden chairs and tables filled with a variety of her aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Most of them were talking, on a regular assortment of topics as happens when family are gathered together, but it seemed slightly subdued, which was unusual for that side of her extended family. The young girl didn’t quite understand what was going on, but most of the adults, including her mother, seemed sad, even though they told some funny stories.
They were all gathered in the common dining and sitting area of the nursing home where her grandma now lived. She had come with her mother a couple times to visit her grandma, usually leaving with interesting stories about the other inhabitants. Most of the adults had gone in and out of her grandma’s room multiple times since their arrival, usually in pairs or trios.
The girl’s father reached her and, beckoning her to follow him, turned around to retrace his path. She followed him dutifully until they reached her grandma’s door. They paused at the entrance, his hand now resting on her shoulder. Her mother and two aunts exited the room, murmuring quietly about one aunt who hadn’t arrived yet. The young girl and her father moved into the sparsely furnished room. Her grandma looked like she was sleeping in her bed. A strange plastic tube was resting gently on her cheekbones and traveled to rest in her nostrils.
Her father sat on the only chair in the room, which had been pulled close to the bed, and had her sit on his knee. She thought it was a little funny since she was starting to outgrow his lap. She WAS 10 years old now, even if it had only been a couple days.
He started to talk and she couldn’t quite tell if he was talking to her or her grandma. After a few minutes he gently took her hand and slipped it under the blue-green covers on the bed. There was her grandma’s hand, and the young girl held it delicately. She was surprised at how it felt – softer than her fuzziest blanket and as warm as a cuddly pile of blankets and friends on a cool night. She savored the feeling. They left the room a few minutes later.
Late the next evening the young girl was at home, but she sensed something had changed. Three days later, tucked into a dress shirt that was a little too small and her sister’s hand me down black pants which were a little too big, she attended a sad church service where her grandma slept in a beautiful wooden box.