I think you would’ve really liked him.
In 2006, when you passed away, I counted on my hands the memories I had alone with you that really stood out. They were far outnumbered by your mysteries. I tucked away those gems but wondered how to grieve someone I spent so little time alone with. I mostly felt sad for my dad at the time, whose grief was overwhelming. You were the Grandma that gave me many gifts, and many mysteries.
Shortly after you died I was given a necklace of yours, which was your name “Myrna” in Arabic (ميرنا). It was given to you by a friend who spoke that language natively and also made jewelry. It’s the only thing I have of yours. This story felt like unlocking some piece of you I didn’t know, the young woman I never met. So I’ve worn it every day since. It encapsulated the warm and intriguing enigma you were to me. It connected a young woman to the fuzzy glimpses I have of shimmering figurines and done up nails and the gifting of my first “big girl” bicycle.
Your house was full of so many things I couldn’t touch and a seemingly infinite amount of things I loved to look at. I only remember staying at your house once, though I asked often. I remember eating at your restaurant with you, and how many people stopped to talk to us. I remember the time you pulled me aside a few weeks after Christmas and said you had forgotten to give me something special. It was a calculator, you said it reminded you of me. A gift and a mystery to me still.
Recently I’ve started to focus on how much I’ve missed out on. I’ve been dreaming about you… weird, awkward dreams where you’re standing in my living room because you never really died, and I’m hugging you and asking where you’ve been all this time. And I wake up crying. How deep an ocean can be hidden inside of us, that we don’t even know what is there. What creatures lurk in our depths, whose names we do not know? Or perhaps her name is grief, but she is the type to submerge herself for years at a time.
I would like to ask you so many things. I want to know about your parents, and what they were like. Now that I have a son, I wish I could sit and ask you a million things about my dad (things only mothers know about sons). I wish I could tell you about my son, and we could compare notes, and you could tell me about your early days as a mother. I wish I could hear what your labors were like. I wish I could know you as a grown woman, and not just as a child, when you were my grandmother. I would ask you if there is a statute of limitation on grief, or if our minds can put it on hold for us until the time where we might actually understand the loss. Is there more to come of this? Will the rest of my life be full of birthdays split with joy and grief?
We are about to celebrate Wesley’s one year birthday. I met Wesley last year, on the anniversary of your passing. He came out with his fist clenched up by his face and no real hair, just blonde fuzz. When they laid him on me for the first time, his little hand reached up and grabbed your name and I smiled;
a gift and a mystery.