I start my new years resolution on my birthday, December 29th of every year. Usually, I take that day to reflect on my life and how far I’ve come in 365 days and start to set goals for the upcoming year.
A few days before Christmas I got some disheartening news about my Grandmother who lives in Guyana. Three men broke into the house, to rob them and in the processes physically assaulted her to the point of hospitalization. My world crumbled around me.
The first reaction was one of complete sadness. I’ve imagined many horrifying scenarios staring my Grandmother, she’s getting up in years and they are relatively alone. I’ve imagined life alert commercial like events where she’s fallen in the house and can’t call for help; that seemed possible and plausible to me but never once did I ever think that someone would do her bodily harm in her own house, a home that she’s lived in with my Grandfather for decades…not in that town that she’s lived in all her life…I never crossed my mind.
The second was of sheer shock. Growing up in Guyana and in Trinidad one of the things you learn earlier on is that older people, elders are revered. Doing a senior citizen bodily harm is a point of shame, you would probably get disowned by your family, if they’re not too busy trying to rectify things with the injured party. It was preposterous to do this to a woman well past her prime. Why? I couldn’t understand the logic in it. There was no resistance, there was no argument. Shock.
My mother held onto the phone as my crying turned into silence. She knew that once I reached that place that she could go. She talked me through the sadness and the terror but once I got silent she told me she loved me and hung up.
In the silence I found a question that’s manifested itself in a lot of ways before but was more sinister, forceful and demanding.
Not so much a question as a statement, your life being the remnants of a story is something you can’t avoid.
I think about it for myself in a different way than I think of it for those that I love especially now that I’m older.
I was fortunate (and yes, I do count it as a good thing that I was acquainted with death while I was young) that I lived in a “third” world country growing up and was exposed to it at a younger age. it helped me to understand the concept of it without making it a non personal issue. I lost my great grandmother while I was young and it felt like the most heartbreakingly final thing that I had ever experienced, to translate that to the relationship I have with my grandmother and not to think that one day she would not be here devastated me in a way I didn’t expect.
It made me realize that while I understood death and experienced it on a personal level I still didn’t acknowledge that it was not a respecter of persons. It would not spare the people I think I can not live without. I would experience this is the worst way for however long I am alive and the longer I’m alive the more likely it is that I would be around for the passing of those I love.
I realize that the lives we live are not entirely for us, it’s mostly for those that carry a part of us with them every day.
That realization forces me to acknowledge and be thankful for what I have shared with her and it makes me hope that today isn’t her last but I know one day, it will be and I hope that day I am ready, that I am more at peace with the idea of death itself.
My new years resolution for last year, December 29th, 2011 was to reconnect with my family. I’m very happy I succeeded in accomplishing that and that it has carried over into great relationships with the amazing people I’ve been lucky to share blood with.
This year, I want to make my family proud.