I must be the worst correspondent in the world. It has been almost five years since we talked to each other. My conscience burns because I do not visit often and I am sorry about that. The gloomy atmosphere of the graveyard makes my stomach turn, so I hope you understand. I wish we could replace tombstones with trees instead. They would represent your new life much better than a lifeless stone.
Mum recently talked about how much you enjoyed school and how you wished you could continue with your education. Now it makes sense why you jokingly nagged me about going to university when I was a child. I wish you talked to me about that before. If I knew, I would bring books to your house more often so we could read and learn together. I am still studying well. I am not exactly sure where the academic path will take me, but it is a risk worth taking. Perhaps I will end up studying medicine as you wished.
I also began baking and cooking by myself. I remember sitting at your round dining table and watching you prepare lunch in the kitchen. The strong spices always tickled my nose and made me sneeze, so I kept a safe distance from your workspace. I cannot count on the fingers of both hands how many times you offered to teach me how to prepare some dishes. I always declined because I thought I had time to learn, but I was obviously wrong. A few months ago I made baklava, and it took me ages to get it right. I wonder if you made it the same way mum and I do.
The last time I saw you was in a shopping centre after school. I ran into you, and you asked if I wanted to go home with you and grandpa. When you told me I would have to wait for a few hours, I decided to go home by bus instead since you were already supposed to come over for dinner in two days. I wish I took your offer. The next day you were feeling ill, and the doctors said it will all be okay and that you should rest at home. It was not okay.
When grandpa visited while you were at the hospital, he said the same thing. I was laying on my brother’s bed. I squeezed his teddy bears as much as I could so I would not cry. They squeezed my ribs back even tighter, and I sobbed into the pillow. My face was sticky and baby hairs stuck to my forehead while I listened to the conversation in the living room.
I did not cry nearly as much during the funeral. I tried to be strong for mum and for grandpa. There were so many people there, grandma. They shook my hand and said their condolences while I blankly stared at their faces. I do not remember much from that day. They asked if I wanted to see your face for the last time, and I said no because I was scared. Scared that you would look dead even though I knew you were. Mum said you looked beautiful. I regret not saying goodbye to you properly.
I am starting to forget grandma. I no longer see you when I think about you. My memory of you is blurry, and I can barely see the lines of your face anymore. I only see your kind eyes, and I am terrified that I will forget them too. Even the photographs do not help anymore. The moment I avert my eyes, your face vanishes from my memory.
Grandma, I am so scared. I am scared of the future, death, strangers, university, new beginnings, and everything unknown. I wish I was still six, and I wish I could come to your house and just watch you go about your day. I wish I could see your soft hands prepare the ingredients for dinner and how effortlessly you turned them into the tastiest dishes. You always smelled of cakes and home, and I never knew how to appreciate the present.
Lastly, I hope you forgive me. These words were supposed to be said years ago. I suppose it was always easier for me to run away from confrontation.
I send all of my love to you,
baklava - traditional sweet dessert made of layers of thin pastry with nuts and syrup