I was nearly brought to tears when I came up with the idea to write about you. It happens every time I think about what’s going on. It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair. I know that. It just feels morbid too. Yes, everyone dies eventually. This feels like I’m anticipating it though. Granted, things weren’t looking good last summer and you’ve made it this far.
I remember back in March when I would cry uncontrollably on FaceTime with Jenny. I couldn’t be in the hospital room with you for more than a few minutes before needing to take a walk. It felt selfish to be in there upset when you’re battling multiple ailments.
All of this makes me confused. Do I share this with you before you go? Do I read it at the funeral? Do I release it afterward? Or do I just hold onto this for myself? I still don’t know, but I couldn’t not write about you.
Interestingly enough, I don’t think I was ever told the meaning of your name. It’s gorgeous. Nativida Alerte. I did some Googles, and found that somewhere it means “gift from God.” Somewhere else it said, “neighborly and friendly to all.” Those might be bullshit but for the sake of this, I’ll run with it.
You’re all of that. You don’t leave a room before ensuring everyone there is taken care of. As a kid, I was admittedly annoyed when you would continually ask if I wanted more food or why I was eating so slowly. I wasn’t even on this health kick I’m on now, I would just legitimately be full but you always found a way to get me to eat a little more. With you, I had everything I needed. And you’d do your best to give me everything I wanted within reason.
As I got older, of course so did you. I came to understand you more. I saw the traits you gave to my mom. Similarly, as a kid she annoyed me too. Now I appreciate all she did and I love you for bringing her into this world. Without you, there is no her. Without her, there is no me. Thus without you, there is no me.
Somewhere else I found your name means “native of Haiti” and your constant trips there couldn’t punctuate that anymore. You loved your home, and you dedicated yourself to taking care of everyone in Port au Prince and Gran Saline just as you do in Jersey City, NJ. You’d fly back and forth and not miss a beat.
You’re passionate and I know I get that from you. No is a word you use very rarely, and you accept it even less. Even though you’re now basically stuck in bed all day, your fire burns. Only now, we’re taking care of you and keeping your flame glowing.
I hope you can be around to see me make it. I’m not upset that you don’t think journalism is a serious career. I’ve heard it all before. All I ever try to do is make you proud. I’ll be thinking of you with every key I press and Tweet I send out as it gets me one step closer to where I want to be.
Growing up, I thought tattoos were dumb. You’ve given me a reason to get one. Something meaningful. You’ll be in my heart forever, but I look forward to those who will ask what Nativida means. I’ll excitedly tell them it’s the name of a beautiful soul I had the pleasure of calling grandma. I never quite adapted to everyone calling you “muma” but it is your nickname on my phone if that makes you feel better.
Cancer sucks. If it were a human, I’d have already had some choice words and a fist or two for it. Why did it have to choose you? Why is that the plan? I don’t wish bad on anyone, but I think I can make a pretty good argument as to why you’re near the top of the list of people who don’t deserve this.
I love you, Grandma. This hurts a lot, and I know it will only get worse. The thing about going through something is it’s on you to accept reality, and push forward. I know you want greatness for me, and it’s what I will do for you. I know you want the house and family to be taken care of, and I plan to do that too. I know you want us to just be able to accept this because you’re “old” now anyways, but people like you don’t go out for a long time.
Life is queer with its twists and turns. This has been quite the ride. I thank you for blessing me with you for 24 years of my life. I thank God for delivering someone like you to the world. There are many people like you, but there will never be another you. I’ll miss you, Nativida. The gates will open and there will be fresh mango and Haitian radio waiting for you. You’ll never want again. And we will find comfort knowing that you’re in peaceful bliss.