April 1, 2019. I woke up at 10:01am, and out of what seemed like a Gen Z reflex, the first thing I did was check my phone. My sister texted me that our grandfather had died.
Just a text. One missed call from my mom. I knew my grandfather was dying, but in that moment it was the last thing I was expecting to see, and especially on my phone screen, of all places.
January 2019. I visited my grandfather to get his blessing before I went back to school: Pomona College in Claremont, CA. He blessed me; I told him a bit about life in Claremont, he told me a bit about his life as a Bracero. We said our goodbyes. I had no way of knowing, yet somehow I knew. An impulse that originated in my gut slowly made its way up my spine, before finally taking a comfortable seat in my brain: Would this be the last time I saw him?
The morning of the funeral. I woke up at 9am, and I had no idea how I woke up in my bed in Houston, TX. The last thing I remembered was being in Cell Biology class. I truly hadn’t remembered even being in an airplane. I started to hear everyone get ready, so I started getting ready too. It felt like the good ol’ days, when the entire fam was getting ready to reunite at the carne asada. There hadn’t been a carne asada in a long time.
At the funeral. I cried. In front of my family at my abuelito’s funeral. I hadn’t cried in a long time.
After the funeral. I took a pink flower from the ones that were scattered. When I got back home, I put it in a book and would patiently wait for it to dry. I wanted to take the memorial card and flower to laminate them back in Claremont.
Back in Claremont. I was unpacking. Book… laptop… folder… memorial card… I turned the whole room upside down looking for the pink flower. My memory had been spotty, but of this I was certain: I never took the pink flower out of the book. I would not get it until I went back to Houston.