I walked into the house and, like every other day, I was ready to drop my school bag and be done with the world. My love and hate relationship with everyone and everything comes and goes regularly. This day in particular, I was not ready to explain myself to anyone.
Before walking inside, I had rehearsed my lines. Today was one of those days and trust me I had a lot of those. There’s one person in the house who made my days bearable – my grandma. But since the stroke that left the side of her body dysfunctional, grandma and I had been spending very little time together. I had two older sisters that I have nothing in common with. According to them I lack fashion sense, whatever that means.
As soon as I stepped inside, the room went dead silent. So silent I could hear my brain still rehearsing my lines: “Don’t try to talk to me, thank you and bye.”
Something was different and I couldn’t put my finger onto it immediately. As if that’s not stressful enough for an overthinker like myself I could see from the way my sisters smiled at me that something DEFINITELY was wrong.
My sisters and I have an unwritten understanding about certain things: it is simply – let me be and I will do the same with you. There they sat, smiling at me like we were friends. And, there were two people in the house I did not recognise…
Okay, things were not going according to my plan and I did not like it. My anxiety fails to understand when things don’t go as planned. I remember trying to force a half-smile followed by a low-toned greeting of “Molweni” as I passed them to go to my room. I was stopped in my tracks by a high-pitched tone of “come here, sit down”.
I looked back to see who it was, and it was one of the ladies. I stood there for a couple of seconds hoping to be swallowed by the earth. Tough luck, even the earth and I have a complicated relationship.
I turned around to sit, right next to the two people who were making me feel very uncomfortable, my siblings. The lady introduced herself as a good friend of my grandmother. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that my grandma was not in her usual spot near the door where she enjoyed sunlight. I turned my head quickly to take a second look as if to check whether my eyes had deceived me the first time.
The lady must have noticed because she looked me right in the eyes and said: “Your grandmother loved you very much. It is sad that she is no longer with us.”
The news came as a blow of fists to my ears. I scanned the room looking for my mum, hoping that she would say something to make it all go away. She was the Queen of making things go away… but she was not there. I choked in disbelief as tears fell down my cheeks.
She extended her hand to give me something. It was a necklace of pearls my grandmother loved very much. As the second lady put down her cup of coffee, she said: “She wanted you to have this”.
All I could do was nod in agreement. I could not process everything fast enough.
To this day, that necklace has become my special something. When I wear it, I know she – my special grandma – is with me and I am carrying her with me.