Verified Rule #2: If you can’t puke it out, breathe and get through it.

My life happens in small increments, especially on the 2 long-winded days I’ve had of “summer vacation.”

I went to visit my grandmother’s grave yesterday and it was wet for most of the day except for the 10 minutes or so we spent there, when the sun peeked out and washed us with a bit of warmth. I can still hear her voice and feel her soft, but gnarled and twisted hands in mine. I stopped holding them a while before she died because they felt strange underneath my straight fingers. They were curving around everything she was losing, I think – mobility, independence, family.

Voracity is something she never lost even when she was in the ICU, twitching when we came near. I felt her body struggle to wake – I saw it and I couldn’t help but cry to see the woman my grandfather loved aching to see us one last time. He loved her more than she loved him, but she loved him because he was there, I think, because he was her family after 49 years. He made her soup with giant chunks of vegetables, and helped her stand even after his back gave out and he had a stroke. He helped her cook a meal of gargantuan proportions when she couldn’t use her hands anymore (eventually he had to resign because she yelled at him for doing it wrong – so he brought the cutting board to her bed.)

It’s been almost 2 years since her death now but my grandfather’s eyes are still moist and red. He bends down, one puffy hand on top of the bird-shat-on stone, touches his lips to the picture of her that my father and I picked out. She is about 40 in it, black-and-white, wrinkle-less, serene and loving – even in a photograph. I remember her like this – and I see pictures of her looking older all the time, but always this image, when we used to sit in her kitchen and make dumplings together, and she would let me press whipped cream straight into my mouth before my mom came to pick me up. Always yes from her. Always, let’s get more, do more, more of whatever you want. I still have a hard time remembering all her illnesses, but you would never have been able to tell.

I was a spoiled kid, but I immigrated young.

You can’t get sick on your hardships. You can only live through them, or not live through them.

-A

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