Into That Good Night

She lies on the bed, eyes closed, mouth slightly open. She could very well be awake but it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Old age is swiftly sapping consciousness out of her.

She looks small and frail, her body nothing more than wrinkled skin clinging to brittle bones. Ants fed on her foot and left a wound that diabetes impedes from healing. She clutches the hem of her dress and slowly pulls it up, exposing a pair of scrawny legs and another gangrenous wound on her thigh.

She weakly raises her arm at the sound of my voice. I try to take her hand but she manages to grasp the curtains on her bedside window instead.

La, si Kristine ni, inyong apo [Grandma, it’s Kristine, your granddaughter],” I say. She murmurs unintelligibly in response.

It’s difficult to reconcile the image of this gaunt figure with the spirited woman who raised six children and took care of dozens of grandkids. She’s like Ursula, the matriarch in One Hundred Years of Solitude: tough, strong-willed, the unwavering force that keeps the family together.

Even as she got older and weaker, it didn’t seem like she’s inching closer to her death. I thought she’d live forever because dying just doesn’t suit her. But as I saw her on that bed, immortality seemed remote. Her emaciated body confirms the brutal truth. Even Ursula had to die.

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