Day 18: A death in the family #100daychallenge

Photo:  Nikodem Nijaki

In less than two months, my extended family experienced two deaths. One was sudden, another expected. And their funerals could not have been more different.

The first was a middle-aged woman who suffered a heart attack while babysitting her very young granddaughters. They're the ones who ultimately called their father.

It was a real tragedy, an experience those young girls will have to remember for the rest of their lives. But I was told the elder sister handled the situation with such grace that you would have no idea she was hardly 7 or 8 years old. 

I knew that woman and met her several times. She had beautiful and kind eyes and boy did she love her grandchildren. 

Inside the funeral hall, her son struggled to let go. His sister was denied entry to the U.S. to attend their mother's funeral. The tears were contagious.

The second death was on my mom's side. She was my dear cousin's grandmother, a woman who had lived a full and wonderful life, my mom said. She was always surrounded by family and that was all she ever wanted.

In her last year, she was bedridden for much of the time. Her grandkids traveled far to come visit and stay with her, to joke with her and read to her and just enjoy those final moments.

I walked in a little late to this funeral, but as I parked and made my way toward the service, I could hear boisterous laughter. For a second, I thought I was at the wrong place. People smiled and told stories and gave big bear hugs. My cousin ran over to me to give me one too. She was dressed up, her face adorned with light makeup, which is typically out of the ordinary for Muslim funerals. She had the biggest smile on her face as she talked about her last days with her grandmother. It was wonderful. I thought to myself, "That's how I want to go."

I've been thinking about how different those two ceremonies were. One life taken too soon, and another at just the right time. It made me think about what makes a life so full that you feel peaceful enough to make your exit. And it made me wonder how I would handle the sudden loss of a loved one. I'm having a hard time just thinking about that.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,