In 2015, I don't remember if it was the first or second half of the year, but I do remember that it was a Friday. I remember that the sky was dark that day, but I don't remember if it rained or not. I just knew that the sky was really dark that day.
Just like any other Friday, I was planning my weekend activities. As the sky grew darker, it seemed like I wouldn't be able to go out for the weekend.
After school, I was surprised to see my mom picking me up. I didn't ask why, as I've never been curious. "Your grandma passed away, I'm taking you home," she said. I sat in the backseat of the car, not reacting for a moment. I still didn't say anything, as I've never been much of a talker. Under the dark sky, the wind seemed to carry tiny raindrops.
That was the first time I encountered the mourning "mourning" attire, white in color, with a red line on the forehead after wearing it. It seemed to form a pattern, perhaps different patterns for different generations. I didn't delve into it, I just obediently put it on.
My grandmother lay quietly in the center of the main hall. As soon as I entered the house, I saw her. I didn't know who the relatives surrounding her were, whether I knew them or not. I only looked at my grandmother for a while, maybe I bowed a few times, and then I escaped. Looking back now, it was truly an escape.
Beside the vegetable garden in the backyard was the storage room for my grandmother's belongings. It was usually not tidy and looked a bit old. I hadn't been inside many times. It was quiet here, and my thoughts were probably in a mess, or maybe I should say I was confused. I didn't know what I was thinking, I knew I wasn't thinking about anything. I sat there, thinking, my grandmother passed away, why didn't I cry? What's wrong with me? Even when my second uncle came to look for something, I greeted him with a smile. I thought I should cry, so I pretended to cry a few times, but there was no emotion in it, I was crying just for the sake of crying. The more I did this, the more confused and uncomfortable I felt.
I didn't participate in the funeral. Just like before my grandmother passed away, they didn't come to take me back home. They didn't want me to miss my studies. People in the small village were always connected in the same network, to the point that when I went back to school, my homeroom teacher came to me during evening study time to show concern, and I still responded with a smile. Was I really so indifferent and heartless?
After that, my life went on as usual. It seemed like my grandmother's passing was not a big deal, as if she hadn't really passed away, it was just my unfounded imagination. After all, I wasn't there when she left, and I wasn't there for her funeral. In my memory, my grandmother was just lying quietly in the center of the main hall, maybe that was also fake, because I only glanced at her before running away.
In these years, I didn't deliberately think about my grandmother, except when I went back to my hometown to visit my grandfather. Then I would understand that my grandfather had lost his wife. I didn't understand that I had already lost my grandmother.
Recently, one night, I suddenly remembered her, my grandmother.
When I was a child, my parents went out to work, and when I was in elementary school, my grandmother came to take care of me. One morning, I woke up without my grandmother calling me. She asked why, and I said I heard the birds outside. So, when I grew up, my grandmother would often mention this experience when my mom said I was lazy and didn't want to get up.
When I got a little older, my grandmother didn't need to stay at my house at night to take care of me anymore, but it was still the same. A primary school student couldn't take care of themselves properly. I would stay at her house during the day, and I spent most of my childhood in that yard. I still remember the egg tea and egg cakes she made for me in the morning; I still remember sitting in a basin in the yard, where she would bathe me in the afternoon; I still remember how she thought I was short, so she let me hug the tall tree in the yard in the morning.
Later on, I grew even older, and most of my time was spent at school. When I went home for a few days each month, I didn't spend the whole day at her house anymore. I would only go there for meals. And then, as I became more rebellious, I became lazy and stopped going altogether. Was it really just because I was lazy? Maybe. At mealtime, my grandmother would send my grandfather to call me. He would scold me on his tricycle and bring me back home. This happened many times.
Perhaps the tilting of her head was a sign of her departure, something that had started long before she actually left. At first, it was just a slight tilt, but it became more obvious and no problem was found. Looking back now, it was probably just old age. In the end, her head tilted so much that it affected her ability to eat. When she drank soup, it would leak out.
I learned about what happened before her passing from chatting with my dad and his brothers. They said she passed away without pain or burden. That day, my mom and my aunt were talking to her when they noticed that she had stopped responding. They immediately called their brothers to take her to the hospital. The local hospital couldn't do anything, so she was taken to the county hospital, and she woke up. Perhaps she knew it was time, so she said, "Let's go back, let's go home." The doctor also suggested that they should prepare for the funeral.
My eldest uncle understood and quickly prepared a car to take my grandmother back home. On the way home, my grandmother felt a little dizzy due to the rush. My uncle asked to slow down, but he was still in a hurry. He was afraid that my grandmother wouldn't make it back home. It seemed like going back to one's roots was their persistence. When they returned to the village, they took my grandmother to the local hospital, where she was given an IV drip. They called my uncle-in-law, who apparently knew some traditional Chinese medicine. He took a look and said there was no need to go through all this trouble, just go back home.
Back in her yard, all the relatives received the notification and came to see her for the last time, but I wasn't there.
My grandmother was very clean. In the last few hours of her life, she wanted to go to the bathroom but couldn't get up. My mom and my aunt held a basin for her to relieve herself in bed, but she couldn't do it after trying for a long time. Maybe she couldn't bear it in her heart, so they helped her to the bathroom.
Finally, in the middle of the night, with her children and daughters-in-law by her side, she passed away.
It was only many years later that I slowly realized that she was gone, that I would never see her again. I had lost my grandmother like this! I don't even remember the last time I saw her when she was alive. I only remember her lying quietly in the center of the main hall, motionless.
I was extremely sad. Why didn't they let me see her for the last time? Why didn't they notify her grandson? Why did I lose my grandmother without knowing it? Just because I was in school? I find it hard to forgive their arbitrary decision.
I finally experienced death, finally understood what farewell meant, even though it came more than six years late. The passage of time seemed to make it even heavier. I don't need to pretend to cry anymore, because my emotions have already overflowed from my eyes.