my grandmother died on monday, which was both unsurprising (as she was 99) and a bit unexpected (as she had developed COVID though she lived in a nursing home in los angeles that has been locked down for a long, long time). the first week or so after her positive test was a comparatively good one — she was sleepy and sniffly, the staff reported via my aunt via my mother — but her blood oxygen levels began to plunge, and you have probably heard about access to ventilators and oxygen in los angeles, to say nothing of hospital beds. a catholic priest came by to perform last rites on monday morning, my aunt arranged for someone to play "la vie en rose" (which she loved, loved, loved) in the afternoon, and she died in the early evening. she'll be buried in her mink (which she also loved), gloves, and a black beret. if our family had been interested in trying to have a funeral, we would have had to jostle for a slot in march.

i am sorely tempted to exaggerate the immediate emotional impact of grandma's passing to make other people feel shitty about their life choices. i have, or had, a travel-writer friend who seems constitutionally incapable of not skipping off to europe and mexico;* my feeds deliver me a much closer friend holding babies and making cameos with family in other cities; friends' friends flew down to disney world in the fall. in middle age i've gotten better at recognizing when i'm making an honest effort to effect change and when i'm inflicting pain as a hobbyist. is stitching away at my ongoing quilt in front of cable news for a couple of hours each evening a bit madame-defarge-in-a-tale-of-two-cities-adjacent? oh, maybe.

my mother doesn't want my sisters and me talking about her mother's death on social media, as it would increase the likelihood of my late uncle's terrible wife parachuting in to cultivate drama. (she's impressive, this wife: when my mom's dad died in the early aughts, she spent most of the funeral reception sidling up to my father in an attempt to starfuck her way to a relationship with his second wife.**) i don't think mentioning it in this context is problematic; we all have a fairly good idea of what we're doing here.

*i feel for writers who haven't been able to pivot to other beats as neatly as i did last year, and i know how lucky i am. said friend is so well-traveled that she could spend the next decade writing about trips she's already taken; she also top-edits guides. this is not about work.

**she actually slipped a wheedling letter and a packet of instant grits into his blazer's interior pocket.


metameat said...

You certainly know what you’re doing, and I know you’ll go on remembering her well. I’m very sorry.

lauren said...

thank you, P. it really is wonderful to still have this place, and you in it, after nearly twenty years.