Monday, May 7, 2018

The last time I saw my grandfather

"Later, walking the corridors down to the street,
I turn and step inside an empty room.
Yesterday someone was here with a gasping face.
Now the bed is made all new,
the machines have been rolled away. The silence
continues, deep and neutral,
as I stand there, loving you."

Mary Oliver, University Hospital in Boston

December 2017.

I have crossed an ocean, many states and countries, the Bosphorus Straits.

I have taken a bus, the subway, a minibus. I am holding my Dad's hand. I am a little girl again.

I have waited patiently for hours to cross to the other side of the city. The traffic is unrelenting. The crowds are weighing on my mind. The noise is unbearable.

I enter a large, ugly hospital, and it's like entering the belly of a beast.

I push a button. The elevator comes. We go up. The doors open. Security doors. The ICU. We change into gowns. I put on gloves.

Me and Dad walk in an aisle. He looks at me apprehensively. I look at him, and I am calmer than I thought I would be.

I enter the room. My grandfather, on the bed. So thin, so frail. His eyes turned towards the ceiling. His mouth open. His face expressionless. How many months have passed, like this.. How many months, trapped in his own body and mind. Being kept alive by the machines around him. What does it mean to live? A breath and a beating heart?

Who knows the limits to human suffering? Desperation? Who can tell?

I look at him, and say "Dede, ben geldim."

Grandpa, I am here.

His head turns ever so slightly towards me. His ice blue eyes are fixed on mine.

They have told me that he has "been gone for months, no signs of consciousness, no interaction with his surroundings, no reactions, nothing."

Yet he looks at me, and in the depths of those blue eyes, I see a faint flicker of recognition. It's so slight it's barely there, and I feel it even before I see it.

My hand, wrapped in a rubber glove, finds and holds his hand. I look into his blue eyes.

"Dede, buradayim, torunun geldi."

Grandfather, I am here. Your granddaughter has come.

I came to hold your hand. I came to tell you, one last time, of how much you are loved. I came to look into your eyes one last time and know it will be the last and where did these tears come from all of a sudden? Grandpa, everything is blurry and all of a sudden I have let go of my tears, my tears that I have carried with me across the ocean, all the way here, to the city I was born, the city in which I was raised, and to your house in which I grew up. Grandpa, I am here. I am here and there are lots of tears, yet there is nothing to be ashamed of; for despite everything life has thrown at me in the past few years, I have managed to make it to here, I am finally here, I am finally holding your hand. Through the plastic of my gloves, I can still feel that you are here yet, and you feel and hear me somehow.

And I am breathing next to you at this moment, holding your hand once more, knowing that it is the last time.

Grandpa, why is time so relentless and so cruel to us?

I look into the electric blue of your eyes one last time. I let go of your hand.

A single sigh from my chest. Marking the time out of time and the space in between.

I love you, grandpa.


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