“It’s been a long day, without you my friend. And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again. We’ve come a long way, from where we began. Oh I tell you all about it when I see you again.”
If you asked me what the significance of December 17th meant to me in years past, I would probably say it was the day I didn’t study for my social studies test, or the day where I butt dialed my best friend while talking to myself, or the day when the squirrel was messing around on the power line and my school lost power, or the day when I woke up to 84 snapchats from my best friend. But this year, it’s different.
I remember that day so vividly. December 17th, 2014. It had snowed recently, but the sun melted most of it away, leaving the blacktop parking lot of my school icy. The sun shone down, making it seem like a beautiful day, until the wind blew so icy cold and bitter that it felt like a slap on the face. I scurried into the school at 7:35 AM, trying to avoid the ice patches. It was a half day at school, which meant we were due to get out at 12:20. Despite getting out 2 hours earlier, the days dragged on as if they were just as long.
Finally, it was my last hour. I sat in my health class, drumming my fingers on my desk and resting my chin on my hand. Music blasted through my headphones to cancel out the sound of the annoying freshmen that sat behind me. I looked at the clock. 2 minutes left.
My music stopped playing and I looked at my phone. My sister was calling me. I decided to let it ring because I would be out of class soon enough to answer it. My music resumed. My phone rang again. She was calling twice in a row when she knew I was in school, so it must be important. The bell rang.
“Hello?” I croaked into the phone. “JEN WHY HAVEN’T YOU BEEN ANSWERING YOUR PHONE? AREN’T YOU AT LUNCH?” My sister, Amanda, practically screamed at me. “Chill,” I said. “Usually I would be but today was a half day. What’s up?” As soon as I said what’s up, it dawned on me as to why she was most likely calling. “Mom texted me saying we need to get to the hospital ASAP. I don’t have my car, so you need to come pick me up.” I froze. Everybody rushed around me to get to their cars, celebrating the half day by going out for lunch with their friends or going home to sleep. The vibe was always exuberant on half days, and all of that lively energy was just sucked out of me. I unfroze; I had no time to waste. “I’ll be there in 10.” I said and hung up.
I practically ran through the hallways to get to my car that seemed much farther than it did this morning. I was usually cautious about running on icy surfaces, but today I simply didn’t care. I got in my car and didn’t wait for it to warm up. I stormed out, hearing angry honks behind me. Their lunch date or their bed can wait. My great grandma can’t.
I sped like a maniac to get home to Amanda, where she was waiting at the end of the driveway, sporting baggy red eyes. We rushed off to get to the hospital downtown, weaving in and out of traffic. Police are usually very present downtown, but today I just simply didn’t care. I had to get there. We finally pulled into the parking lot at the Mercy Hospice Care, and Amanda jumped out before I was even able to put the car in park. We rushed in to the building. I stopped for a second. Crows were gathered outside. A symbol for death.
Usually when we visited our great grandma, Motsie, here, we would take the elevator but neither of us had the patience today. We whirled up and around the staircases up three flights before we pushed through the door on the 3rd floor. We ran around the corner and stopped outside of her open door.
The first thing I saw in there was my mom, facing the bed that was on the left coming out of the wall vertically, in her work clothes. She had her hand over her mouth, and her eyebrows were scrunched. Her eyes were welled with tears, something I saw once in a blue moon. Behind her was my great Aunt Judy and my grandma Sharon, Motsie’s daughters that have been here almost 24/7 for the past week. Aunt Chris was sitting at Motsie’s feet, tears coming from her eyes too. Amanda and I were stopped in the doorway when my mom looked up. Her mouth quivered, and she could barely mouth the words “She’s gone.”
We slowly walked in, and I turned my head to the left, where her body laid. Her mouth hung open, and her eyes were shut. Her body didn’t move with every breath, and she was no longer struggling. I touched her forehead; it was still warm. I lost it. Tears started flowing out of my face uncontrollably, and my mom hugged me tightly. I cried into my moms hair as my chin rested on her shoulder. Amanda hugged the both of us, and I struggled to breathe.
I don’t remember how long this went on for, but it was awhile. When we all decided it was time to go, I touched her forehead again. It was cold. For as long as I can remember, Motsie was the one person who always made me feel so warm inside. And now, she lay here, cold as the wind outside.
Her funeral was a couple days later.
A month later, I got five birds tattooed on my forearm in memory of Motsie. Amanda got five birds tattooed on her back.
Sporadically throughout the months afterwards, we all visited her old home and collected the things we gave to her or other things we would like to have. I got a couple necklaces and a ring, jewelry I hadn’t ever seen her wear before.
Her birthday passed; she would’ve been 97.
Prom passed; Graduation passed. Pictures of my cousins and her hung up, all of them in their prom dresses or tux’s and in their graduation caps and gowns, monuments she would never see for me.
So here I am, one year later. I’m attending the University of Iowa, something that Motsie was proud to hear when I told her last year as she laid in a hospital bed. I’m going through today with a heavy heart. I miss my great grandmother Motsie with all of my heart.
RIP Irene Vig March 27th, 1918 — December 17th, 2014.