- Prompt A: Talk about breaking someone else’s heart, or having your own heart broken.
Hearts break for lots of reasons
Afterwards, I sit in my car in the parking lot. Tears spill over the lids of my eyes; but, I’m not actually crying. Instead, I keep making these funny, hiccuping half-sobs. I’m so stunned that my mind is still reeling.
“She didn’t mean it, Sweetie.”
My aunt says, “She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”
Over and over, she begs me to forget the words that seemed like perfectly aimed, poison-tipped arrows.
But, how can you forget words that, on some level, could actually be true?
All of these years, I’d thought I was special. I thought I was doing her a favor, as much as she was for me. Every weekend, while my husband worked, I would bundle the kids into the stroller and we’d walk to her house. We would spend the day talking and playing with the kids while I did my laundry. Rain or shine…well, mostly shine…it was Phoenix, after all.
Could it really be that she’d resented me? She’d never said a word. On days when we were late, she’d get into her car and drive the route that we walked, looking for us.
Later, my mom calls.
“I heard what Grandma said.”
I can’t speak.
“It’s the medication. And it’s possible that she’s had another stroke. She loves you. She loves those kids. You guys were the best thing for them. She looked forward to the weekends.”
I’d always thought so. Now, a little voice keeps repeating her words.
She’s been fine all afternoon. She’s been quiet, listening and smiling while I joke and talk to my mother and my aunt. As the sun begins to set outside her west-facing hospital room, my mom leaves. My grandmother becomes increasingly agitated.
Suddenly, the woman who I had grown so close to, who had guided me through the transition from a college kid to a young wife and mother, turns on me with such venom and ugliness that I can only stare in shock. When my aunt issues a curt reprimand, my grandmother turns on her. It takes two nurses and a shot to calm her down.
The head nurse gently leads me out into the hall, my aunt following behind.
“Don’t pay no mind to Miss Grayce, now.”
“It’s Fifi,” I mumble absently. “She hates Grayce.”
“Go on home. We’ll calm her down and get her settled. She’ll be better tomorrow.”
My aunt spins me around and looks me squarely in the eye.
“Promise me you’ll forget all this, Sweetie. You know that the meds and the dementia are making her say things. You know she adores you.”
I just nod and choke out a little giggle. “Yeah. I guess so.”
“I love you, Honey. Go home to your babies.”
I get into the elevator behind an orderly. If he doesn’t push the lobby button, who knows where I will end up.
I find my car in a pool of light, moths circling the street lamp.
As I sit in my car, my heart breaks. I know that my grandmother is gone.
I am participating in The Scintilla Project.
1692, from fig. use of L. scintilla “particle of fire, spark, glittering speck, atom,” probably from PIE *ski-nto-, from base *skai- “to shine, to gleam” (cf. Goth. skeinan, O.E. scinan “to shine”).