I had never seen death up close.
Your chest stopped moving. Your fingertips turned blue, followed by your hands, your wrists…I tugged on my mom’s hand, but she was praying.
Weeping, shouting. A flurry of nurses. Phone calls. Harsh words. A funeral procession.
Dust motes over the sage green couch at my grandmother’s house. A black, pink, blue, and white afghan throw. Dandelions in a water glass vase.
No. I don’t want to read a book. I don’t want to watch TV.
My grandmother leaves me be.
I stare through the dusty window at the dusky ripe plums, get distracted by the grinding whir of the mantle clock my grandpa loved: a sad clown in a dark suit whose arm moves up at down with a bottle in its hand. My grandpa didn’t drink, but loved that clock. It’s the only thing he owned left in the house. Even his favorite maroon sweatshirt was thrown out like trash.
I miss him.
But I begin to understand that he wasn’t nice to my grandmother or my aunts or my mom, or anyone other than my older cousins and I. We were children, and he was gentle with us.
I have the photo album he gave me. One picture of him standing by his garden.
Even knowing the pain he caused, even seeing mental illness shatter loved ones, even experiencing the legacy of family abuse, I miss his smile, his laugh, his hope that he had changed, finally, near the end. The last three months, he had hope in forgiveness, in heaven, in mercy he knew he didn’t deserve.
I remembered again his favorite color was yellow. He loved daffodils. He admired male ballerinas more than football players; he would stop any program and change the channel to watch either a ballet or a football game. He enjoyed the beauty of movement. He loved horses and his garden.
I can accept that he was a broken man, as I remember the good in him.
I found that old picture of him, wearing his maroon sweatshirt, standing by his wheelbarrow, looking down at his garden.
Tyrean Martinson (she/her) changes her bio nearly every time she submits a story. Why can’t she decide on the best one? Because decisions are hard. Life is too full of possibilities and wonder. Tyrean writes science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, terrible poetry, song lyrics, devotions, and any idea that feels shiny with wonder. Her newest novella, Liftoff, was something she wrote to entertain herself during early quarantine, a “popcorn movie” style YA novella she hopes will be fun for readers, too.