once in a while, your present becomes your past.

Earlier in the year, I received a call on a Saturday morning in April. I was told that I needed to be in Washington DC to visit a family member. 2 hours later I was on a plane en route to my third home (1st being Portland, 2nd, New York City of course). With the 3 hours I instantly lost upon arrival, the rain and dark sky seemed sadly appropriate, given the circumstances. When I finally was brought to the hospital, we told her I was there to celebrate her birthday which was to fall the next day. When I turned around I saw that my entire family had flown/drove/teleported from all over the land of America to be at her side as well.

I extended my stay to an extra week. Something in my guts knew it was the last time I was to share the same room's air with her and I wanted to savor every second of it. Every evening, like a rittual, I argued my way into sleeping at the hospital.

"There's no room and you can't translate sweety. Please go home and return in the morning, we need you to be rested and strong for everyone," they pleaded.

My begging responses included, "I'm staying. I'll sleep in the lobby if I have to!"
"No, I have jet lag and insomnia, I never sleep!"
"Please! Don't make me leave!"

I wanted to play nurse for anything she needed. If she had a thirst, I wanted to quench it. An itch? I would scratch it! I tried to talk to her with our 30 year barrier of broken languages we had between us; we had sort of adapted our own communication form built off of hand gestures and broken words... somehow, we could talk to each other, much to everyone's confusion. *we had perfected it sometime in the late 80's.

She gave me some last wisdoms and told me to discard anything/one who doesnt see me for who I am, she then proceeded to tell me who I was. She said some pretty amazing things to me but mostly, I kept waiting for her to say my name. I liked the way she said my name. The thing with big families is that when someone tries to call you from across the room, there is a montage of at least 10 names that they call before they actually get to yours. My name usually sounds like "CatSherNatZibHomeBahSimCatKimCatCatSharKimKeemya". So to get full attention to your name in one fell swoop is a pretty big deal. When she said my name, I felt like I was home.

She has/d this great gift of, no matter who you were (be it one of her 8 children, 12 grandchildren, or one of her "adopted faily" that insisted on calling her "Momon" like the rest of us) you always felt like you were her absolute favorite. That you and her had a very special bond so no matter how often you had to share her, you were happily obliged to step to the side and let other people share some moments. Its a very intriquite art that I still have not figured out and only realized while I was sitting next to her, trying to figure out how you say goodbye to someone you love more than yourself. I cried for her pain, I cried for her children, my mentors were someone's child and their mommy was sick and leaving them an orphan. I cried for the pain, as did everyone, and oceans of distance, of the ones that could not be there. I felt such sadness for my mother who's life has been to only be with her mother. I often joked they were dating or a homage to Grey Gardens (without all the filth). For the first time, I was able to see my mother and her siblings as someones' children. And they were having to say good-bye to their mommy. It's a very intense perspective I would have missed had I not been in that setting. It's one that I will carry forever.

A lot of people are accustomed to losing grandparents earlier on in their lives and almost always with amazing postive memories. Imagine living to 30 and having that. The only person I have ever loved and adored with not a fraction of friction between us, I said good-bye to her on a Sunday as my flight was soon to bring me back to Los Angeles. I put her Koran under her pillow and said I'd be back on Friday. With a long stare, she told me to go and I knew we had nothing left to say.

Friday never came. I was back that Wednesday for he funeral. She passed on right after I left. She was 88 years and one week old. She was made of gold and kisses and I am forever indebted with gratitude. I thank the stars she showed me mine. I love her, my Momoni.


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