By: Deon Robinson
The night of the funeral, we slept on the floor of Grandma’s house.
There was only one bed and we shared the house with five other
people. Dad sent us, seven of his 12 disciples, to shake his mother’s
hand as we lowered her into the grave. I honestly didn’t want
to go. I knew nothing of the country or even how to say its name
with pride infused in the dialect. Guilt slithered into my veins
and froze my blood, the audacity of me to sleep in a stranger’s
house without reciting a prayer first. At the funeral, the home was
so small, and the slaughterhouse next door was too loud next to
Grandma’s bones. There was saltwater on the cheeks of speakers,
and it warped the words of everyone in the audience. I noticed the
rips in suits, and the kids in hand-me-down clothes, noticed how
genetic poverty was. The way her casket glistened, demanded its
own respect. We called Dad afterwards and he reminded us not
to drink any of their water since it would make us ill. Imagine
denying the poor man’s grail, to try to love your country through
a quarantine zone.
I remember my dad said, shivering his tongue dry of Jamaican
“I plan to build a mansion for my mother back in Jamaica once I
get my citizenship. It will tower above all the houses in the
neighborhood, and it will be my apology for leaving her alone 25 years
before her death.
After the funeral, all of the participants danced in the field where
we buried Grandma. I remember looking down and seeing the
names of the dead. I remember mourning is temporary. I watch
them dance till dawn in dirty shoes and tattered suits, but not once
did we ever talk about the elephant in the room.
Not once, did we talk about what killed Grandma.
deon robinson, Class of 2020, is a Creative Writing major who spent
a week in Jamaica following his grandmother’s funeral. In his free time, he
draws in class and takes photos across the East Coast.