She would pick me up after school and we would walk home together as she patiently answered all my repetitive questions and listened to my childish anecdotes with, what I believed to be, sincere interest. The day she died she was not there after school so I waited. I waited for three and a half hours. Apparently, the dramatic situation at home when they discovered my grandmother had died; during a nap so they thought she was sleeping for quite some time before they found her and came to a consensus that she was, indeed, dead, warranted forgetting to pick me up. At the time, though, it felt like they forgot my existence. My mother finally arrived looking tormented, even to my young eyes. I started crying as soon as she got out of the car and I saw her swollen eyes and reddened face, the deep creases set around her mouth. She did try to comfort me as best she could, given the situation, but her own suffering just added to my fear. We both cried the entire drive home despite the fact that she never actually told me my grandmother had died, perhaps she thought my immature emotions could not handle this information or maybe she could simply not bear to say the words, either way I was puzzled nonetheless and my tears were just a knee jerk reaction to the intense emotions of my mother, it is always scary for a child to see their parent distressed. When we finally arrived home (the seven minute drive seemed like hours to me at the time) our entire family was at our house, yet, the packed bungalow was silent. Perhaps the state my mother and I led them to believe I had already been told, but the truth was I wondered and waited for my "Nana" for days before I understood she was never coming back.
Looking back at this time I remember a dark and menacing atmosphere where I just tried to stay out of people's way (our house was the headquarters for all grief, big and small) and try and figure out what everything that was going on meant and, mainly, where my 'Nana' was and when she would be coming home. I recall relating the idea of my grandmother's return to one of my older cousins whose parents had come by to 'let it all out' (a phrase I'd overheard my mother using when one of our guests would buckle, allowing their face to contort as their pain cascaded down their cheeks); I think I simply mentioned an activity I would partake in as soon as my grandmother returned and I was met with the cruel and mocking laughter and was told she wasn't coming back, she was dead and that meant asleep forever. This being my first and only explanation as to where my grandmother was, I had no choice but to believe it. This conception of death destroyed any hope I would have had at thinking about it in a positive way or being able to believe that my grandmother was in a better place, I couldn't even imagine her in a good place; I just her in the ground and that image is haunting me to this day. This experience negatively effected my view of death forever after, it could be said that my deep fear of death could be traced back directly to this incident; The first time somebody told me that my precious 'Nana' had actually died was another child's mocking antagonism. This, I believe, is what led to my subsequent misinterpretation of death and the appropriate response as well as a deep fear that any adult could simply disappear