24 December 2018
“Tears and flowers for grandma”. Writing as form of relief or how should we react towards the inevitable – death
Separation from a dear one is always unexpected (no matter how much you mentally prepare, nothing actually prepares you enough) and tragic. When I found out that my grandmother died, for a few seconds I didn’t even know what to say. I remained still when my sister gave me the news. I sat on the bed in her room and remained there, with a frozen look. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t see death as an option, even though I knew she was sick and was struggling for a few years.
I’m a family person, I grew up really fond of my grandparents who were there as I developed, my uncles and aunts, my childhood places … maybe and because I’ve always had for example a united family, where love comes first. I’m crying now as I’m writing on the plane. A few months ago, we filmed on a hill in the village where I used to spend my summers, a video for Vichy. It was the place that could express freedom and air without saying anything. This was where we often went to make campfires in the summer, just to put potatoes in the fire and then eat them with salt. We went up the hill and from there we could see the whole village.
I often visited my grandmother- and you notice how I never say anything about grandparents – because my grandfather died twenty years ago when I was too young to remember enough details. I have vague memories with my grandfather – Ion Rotaru ‘as he was known in the village running all kinds of errands around the house. He was tall and thin and he was a very calm and pleasant man. My grandmother was always more tempered and I thought that in one way or another, she kept everything in check. My grandfather was a good man, just like she was and many things might be coming from them – sometimes I have the impression that I’m too much of a good person, without leaving the impresion that I am fishing for compliments here. Until I got in touch with Bucharest, everything seemed like milk and honey and this happened because I grew up in a small town where the vast majority of people knew each other, gave greetings on the street and offered helped when needed.
I remember now that my mother used to tell me – when my grandfather died in the summer of ’99 the she regrets the chance to have held his hand, telling him how much she loved him, how much she appreciated what he had done along time for his children. There were seven brothers, one of whom died at birth. There are only five now.
Coming back. I was stuck on the bed and everything seemed somewhat unreal, even though we were getting ready for this moment. Over the past conversations with my mother she was saying that things are not good, and grandma is eating less and drinking water rarely, as if the body somehow was preparing for something. I’m sure that those of you who went through the deaths of sick, aged grandparents know how at one point refusing food is a bad sign. My mother had prepared black clothes in the closet and urged me to do the same for me, Raul and Carla – my sister who now lives with us in Cluj-Napoca.
It remained unreal to me but still, I felt somewhat relieved – because the situation was already very difficult for her, she had not moved for a while and had troubles with her back, in the care of her daughters, Mărioara and Cornelia. However, it was difficult for us to see it as well. Her blue eyes were bright and warm in a strange way. The last time I saw her she had regret in her eyes, but she was trying to talk with us, as little as she could, and asked about how we were, if the house in Cluj was ready, and if it happened for me to go alone, she was always asking about the “boy” (Raul).
I stood on the bed and looked into a big void while all kind of thoughts rushed into my mind as a film only knew by my eyes. Carla didn’t say anything, she didn’t sketch a gesture, I could not see a tear, and for a few moments, in a state of refusal, it was clear, I was so empty, and I did not feel anything. After that, Raul walked into the room and immediately realized that something was wrong when we were standing so stony-looking with both eyes
-What happened? he asked
-Grandma dies. Carla answered
-I am so sorry, may God rest her in peace…
He was not surprised by the news, because he knew the situation, and he had experienced something similar almost a year ago, when he lost the grandmother who took care of him until he entered the first grade. He was also there, in this situation, and he knew the implications. I looked at him and started crying. At that time I didn’t want to see anyone. Why am I crying right now? (We’re on the plane, on our way to Tel Aviv Carmen sleeps next to me and I see with the tail of my eye as a lady looks at me from the right seat).
If in the first moments I thought I would remain like that, stone cold – after that, I learned that the tears would not end, not a day or two, but across the coming weeks, and look at me crying right now, whenever I think about the grandmother word. We walked across the living room where Shay, who came to visit us was siting on the couch, dressed in my purple satin pajamas. What happened,she asked right when she saw me. I can’t answer her so Raul replies – the grandmother from Dumb died. Was she old, she asks again. Yes, she was eighty-years old, and she’s been sick for a while, I say between tears and sighs. She replied: cry as much as you need ..
At that moment I would have preferred to be alone. Alone in the house. Alone in the world. I’m a sensitive person, but I often felt the need to use a shield on the surface, because being the big girl all the time somehow made me responsible for taking care of others. I actually cry at any wedding and I’m afraid of the moment when I will be the bride, because I get emotional about everything. Since my grandmother’s death, I’m even more emotional.
I cried until I felt asleep that night. Before falling asleep, I’ve prepared my clothes and you may laugh at it, but I thought about proper funneral garments. I have perhaps prepared the clothes I wore most and which were my closest – the black dress from Andreea Raicu, which has an excellent look and in which although I feel good all the time now I was ready to feel bad, black 20 den socks, Moja boots and the black Prada bag. I grasped my hair with a path in the middle at the base of my neck and took my black glasses from Saint Laurent to hide something too obvious that couldn’t be shielded anyway – tears.
We started the road to my grandparents’ village with Raul and Carla in the morning. We stopped on Avram Iancu at a funeral house. I hoped Raul would go alone to choose the crown, but he insisted that I come. I was crying at each step and obviously I chose a crown, just pointing towards it, “the one with white flowers.” After that I was going to live something I did not think I’d live in my life. A scene like the Filantropica, as Raul said.
We chose the crown and I couldn’t wait to get out of that space that was suffocating me. I had a knot in my throat from the last evening, and anything that seemed normal became so hard. At the counter, a lady with dark blonde hair, and heavy eyelids- probably indicating she had seen things – asked me (I was still wearing my sunglasses ) – what do you want to write on the crown? I’m looking desperate around – it’s for my grandmother. I don ‘t know what should be written… and then I started crying with warm tears which were desecending over my cheeks. Write anything … “Baby,” says Raul. I started feeling even worse. The lady looked at me, as I walked through the white room full of of flowers … and said, looking back at Raul, then at me: A last reverantial regard? “Tears and flowers for grandma.”
This phrase made things real in a new way. It reminded me that life is in, fact, a series of passing events and at some point you quit and nothing – almost nothing else matters. Maybe only the people you touched in one way or the other … what you wrote, what you left … all the work, all the days, all the noise and all the bitterness are in vain. They mean nothing. “Tears and flowers for grandma” She repeated as she engraved the text with a black marker on a white ribbon, that spontaneous invention created from a scene that I had just caused without any intention in the Funeral House.
I guess they’re accustomed. I suppose there is a woman crying coming there every day, with no courage to take off her glasses. I felt like I was in a movie. Still trying to induce the idea that everything I was experiencing was not real. We got into the car. I knew what was waiting for me, things started to become clearer . You know, after those thirty seconds of denial.
I cried all the way on the right seat, trying to refrain from my sister that was travelling with us on the back seat, and was still holding it together. This is what I noticed at least, from what I saw in the rearview mirror, that she was better than me. She grew up there, in my grandmother’s yard. I was trying to control myself and I realize now that it was useless, and you have to cry, to scream if that’s what you feel. That tears will not absorb themselves, and this pain will not heal itself if you don’t pay attention to it.
I dropped down the mirror where usually I would apply my lipstick just to see how ugly I was. It’s hard for me to hide my emotions, and honestly, I don’t want to hide anything anyway. I’m a very calm person in all sorts of situations. Carmen, for example – I see her as a younger sister – born one month away from me – is more agitated and I always feel the need to impose balance over her,just to help her calm down.
Just before take off, she was really nervous, she hadn’t slept so much this past week because we had a lot of work with the blog, INFSD, the office party … then the turbulence came, and I already saw her checking her veins. “Turbulence. I need something to calm me down, we don’t have anything, I don’t think so. My hands are sweating, my head is about to explode …. “she says. Me? I was sweating my palms as I’m already too ephatetic to anything and understanding her feelings. But I tried to talk to her, make her laugh by telling her that it’s like a fish that keep opening his mouth for pressure … and the feeling passed. And now she’s asleep.
That’s it. I’m ugly when I cry. Raul kept looking at me with the tail of the eye, to see if I am okey. But excuse me, is it ok to be okey? When you loose someone you love? If that’s not an appropriate time to be fucked up, then I don’t know which other moment is. I was not okey. I’m not ok now when I’m talking about it, and that’s why I’m writing it, because if I were to make a video now when all of them are so recent, I’d be crying all the way over.
A tip from me. It’s the first important person in my life who dies, for who I have deep feelings and perhaps I am not so hardened but ladies – cry! You cry as much as you need and think of nothing but the fact that it’s a form of relief. Just as I hope writing this article it is for me .Because I’m still crying. I ordered a red wine, which I drank from the glass and it made me feel too warm.
By the time we arrived I was a complete mess. Just in front of the house there were a lot of cars parked, in front of the gate where she used to scream after us: “Get off that plum tree right away! You Goddamn kid!”, “You ain’t going to no disco, I want to see you in your PJs right now. Do you think you’re old enough to go and party? You make me laugh” (me and my cousing, Melania, when we were trying to sneak out to the village disco)
It was unreal that we were there not to see my grandmother as I we did for her birthday in June, when everything was green and beautiful, and we made barbeque, and we laughed, … and my grandma went out , in the sun, on the grass..
We were there for that last reverntial regard that lady back at the Funeral House created. “Tears and flowers for grandma.” I greeted my parents- and just to see how much they were on the subject and how much I was from another planet – my father tightened my hand and said, “God forgive her, that’s what you should say.” I looked at him through the glasses I refused to take away … and I felt somewhat angry, saying to myself “And you’ll die too someday. What am I going to do then? I will cry all the tears. I will die too because of so much pain. ” – Okay, I answered. I greet everyone further with “God forgive her“. I was looking for my mother and I was scared about what she and her sisters had to feel about the loss of their mother. It seems to me that when you lose your mother you lose somehow … life, I don’t know. What else is there to be done the world? Who else will you call? Who are you thinking about? It’s hard to believe this is happening, even though it’s the normal course of life, and once we were born, we are bound to die.
Maybe I was thinking too far, too, but I felt that beyond being there for my grandmother, that it was her funeral, I was actually there for my mother. I didn’t understand nothing from the entire ritual point of view, and it seemed to me that the reverend- even though he was young, he extended the whole thing and twisted the knife in the wound. For me his words brought no relief, I cried at every word. Raul was holding my shoulders. The sunglasses remained there. My mother and my aunt were gathered next to the coffin, and we stood next to the door, where we ate many times. Now I stood there as a pillar under the sun. I immediately realized it was a beautiful October day (October 12, if you want to associate this period with my lack of presence on Stories for a few days …) and that it was too warm in that Andreea Raicu outfit. But also that everything is real and that nothing matters. I was waiting for the end relief that came really late.
We went to see her for the last time, she was like a ghost, weak, and dry, white … bent, as she had been in the last few years. With her mouth wide open, pale and covered by a white tulle, for the first time I saw something else than what I remembered about my grandmother. Agile and fast-paced, powerful, in the true sense of the word. A woman who gave birth and raised 6 children in less than favorable times.
Raul kept telling me that I shouldn’ look, to avoind remembering her like that. But I looked. I wanted to see her until the last minute. Death doesn’t matter, life does. It matters what you leave behind – what you changed through your words. Those you educated and raised. And I was one of those kids. Alina.
As I told you, the ceremony was a kind of comedy, in which the minister struggled to honor the soul of the one left … to take him on the right path to heaven … he didn’t help me, and even made me more ugly, more weak and destroyed.
We went on her last road, where she went to the crown-covered coffin. I walked the whole village to the cemetery. I held my mother’s arm and I had some flowers in my hand. My mother said at some point – although we had some sort of talks to distract her – “Why are we running so much in this life? That’s where we all get to “… and I just got it right. Returning to the same land, same soil, with the only chance of having a big family to take them on the last road, to complain, to remind them in their prayers …
I felt the need to be with my mother. It’s hard to imagine what she felt in those moments. I held her hand until the last shovel of dust. Raul had gone away at some point, and went into the graveyard, on the grass, breaking flowers and grasping – stress was wearing him out- I know his gestures. Honestly, the only thought that made me feel a little better was that grandma was about to greet her husband after nearly twenty years of widowhood, because they buried her next to him. I don’t want to imagine what that feels like, not to have a husband for so many years. Moreover, I don’t want to write about it, the words are too powerful. I just thought that she met with my grandfather and how much joy it must have been for both of them to revisit eachother in another form after so long …
I think my aunt Sidica was the most affected of all the sisters, because she cried a lot, and when I left my grandmother’s yard heading back to Cluj, she said, “You cannot imagine the pain in my sould , Alina … so much pain. “I can not and I don’t want to. I still have time to believe other things about life. Sidica and Sandor then went back to Sweden, where they have been staying for years. I think the fact that having stayed so long kind of far away, was somehow a catalyst for all the overflowing feelings and tears. But who am I to say that. I cann’t and I don’t want to imagine what you feel when your mother leaves ..
As I told you in a past article and on a few Stories on Instagram … I don’t want – I REFUSE- to think that my role is just to see and write about what’s beautiful in life. And I think that the fact that the first important person, for whom we had strong feelings for and with which I had a special connection – in the end … died, made me realize that I don’t want to hide this from you, on the contrary, I want to share this with everyone. Some of you may have gone through more serious moments than this – Sanziana, my darling I feel so sorry for your loss, I hope you have strength, because your father died this year and I can only imagine what this means. I also cried when you posted about it, although I didn’t know him, I cried because you said you didn’t have a good relationship with him and that you regret some things … or a few words … I don’t want to know how this feels, can I ? Can I avoid this? No. Especially because I’m so close to my own family..
Condolences for you too, dear reader. For past or future moments like this one. Life throws moments like these towards us, I just hope that through this article I can help you at a time when you need me in a way or another, and even if maybe I can’t be there physically, “in the spirit I’ll be there” (Depeche Mode).
Conclusions? My tears are over. For the moment. I told you that writing is a form of liberation and God knows how many emotions have gone through my body on this Warsaw-Tel Aviv flight. I advise you to cry – and I already knew that – the fact that I didin’t choose my friends wrong (too few if you ask me, I can count them on the fingers from one hand) … when Cora told me: cry as much as you need -and I had to do it. Without mirroring and restraint, that’s what you have to do, and that’s the only thing you can actually do in those moments. Complain and release yourself. It will stick with you. For months. Any thought will take you back in time, but that’s all you can do now.
Grandma, I’m going to Tel Aviv on Monday, on the 17th we will visit the Holy Places. I’ll keep you in my prayers, tell me if you found grandpa, I hope you’ve found your love, life and tranquility.