Im my thoughts I'm ten years old sitting at the table in my grandmother's kitchen. The scent of rice and beans with roasted pork filled my nostrils. I sat at the table wrapping the pastels that she handed to me.
Joy filled my heart as I studiously embarked on my task. Making her proud of me was always at the top of my list of things to do. Seeing the smile on her face when I had completed the job was all the payment I needed.
Her smile would light up the room and her light brown eyes glimmered when she laughed. I admired her aged beauty. She was such a sight to behold. I imagined that all of the boys must have loved her in her youth. The strength she held was unlike no other.
I admired her and in my heart, I yearned to be able to one day encapsulate her magnetic personality. She was the driving force for all who came into contact with her. A woman with no equal. I will call her My Sun.
My Sun shined brighter than any star in the sky and as I sat at that table with my legs dangling from the tall chairs, a hum left my lips as I set about my chore. In no time at all, it seemed I was done.
I wasn't the only one that loved her and would happily sit there and work. All of us children took joy in seeing her smile. We laughed and made jokes as we set to our tasks.
Each of us had a unique role to play, yet together we would create something truly amazing. Our reward would come as she would fill our plate with delicious food that melted in your mouth. The flavors melded together in a perfect harmony and we didn't even need the sweetness of a dessert to fill our hearts with satisfaction.
The time we spent there together brought me a peace that I hadn't realized I yearned for. When we were all together the small room at the end of the hall felt far away. It was sealed off to the rest of the home.
In these moments I was safe and secure. In her company, I was untouchable.
I close my eyes as I am brought back to my reality. My Sun was gone and the light that once shined brightly in the sky dimmed. How was I to live in this world without her? How was I supposed to move forward when I wanted to stay in that moment, sitting in that tall chair, set about my task of bringing her joy?
I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rage against the dying of the light but I hadn't cried since I was twelve years old. Seven years of tearless nights and tonight would be no different.
There was a hollowness in my heart that I couldn't fill and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find a way to release the pain that built deep within the walls of my soul. My soul was breaking but I hadn't the tools to make the repairs.
The moment she passed brought with it a sorrow that shook the very fabric of our family. The wails and screams of her children echoed down the halls and filled each room. My mother fell to her knees and sobbed. At that moment, she looked fragile. Breakable.
I thought that I should hold her, offer her comfort but in the end, all I could do was rest my hand on her shoulder in solidarity. She sobbed and time seemed to stand still. Why couldn't I bring myself to cry? 'I am being strong for others' I rationalized. Yes, that would work. That would absolve me of the guilt filling my belly for not mourning her properly.
Strength was what this moment called for and strength I would provide. The service passed and I offered comfort to all who were suffering. With somber eyes, I held my aunts and uncles and cousins and mother. I offered them the gift of a warm embrace free of judgment.
They would mourn her, rage against her passing, and resolve themselves to the knowledge that she had found her peace in heaven. I paused at this thought. For if the things I had learned over the past four years were true, neither she nor I would enter through those pearly gates.
I wondered what lie ahead for a lost soul like me? She passed with her faith intact. What if I was wrong and she was right? What if she was waiting for me in heaven and I never arrived? Would she forgive me for my failings?
The pain of this thought process pushed me to the edge. I needed to find a way to be right with my God even if I would never be right with his church. I needed My Sun like I needed air. The service ended and we all returned to our homes. My home felt even more empty now. I had no one.
My father came into the bedroom to check in on my brother and me. He kneeled down in front of me and he brushed a few strands away from the front of my face. His gentle smile reminded me that when he was sober he was a wonderful father.
"Cathy," he said to me in a soft whisper. "I know you are suffering right now. I know she meant the world to you. I just want you to know that she is in a better place. The pain you are feeling is normal and one day it will lessen and one day you will be whole again. You are an amazing daughter. I am so proud of you. She is too and she is looking down on you from heaven now and she is smiling. You always made her smile. Never forget that." he gently patted my head, stood up, looked towards my brother who was sleeping and turned and left the room.
Darkness filled the space once the bedroom door was closed. Just like that...an important chapter in my life was closed. The end of all that I took comfort in.
The new beginning of something that I didn't quite yet understand. With a small whimper, I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep. Goodnight My Sun. You will always be my light in this darkness.
Author's Note: This chapter was added in to offer a bridge between when the character found out about her grandmother's passing and the next chapter. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.
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