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Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

My great grandmother died. And there is nothing more to say about it. I was on my way home Friday night when I got a call saying she passed away. She was 98. Quite a relic, actually.

Then again, she has turned into a child these last few years. I was glad it was all over. For her sake, at least. Deep down I know, the only reason why my mother’s family kept on bringing her to the hospital time and again when something happens, like when her heartbeat slows down, or when some other major cause of panic occurs, is because of their own damn selfishness. I don’t know if I’m much too jaded, but I think that this is all a part of the “this-is-what-families-do” crap, and I really did think if she was lucid enough she’d have issued a Do Not Rescuscitate order a long time ago.

It’s a peculiar thing, death.

She looked so frail inside the casket. As opposed to the towering figure I used to remember when I was a child. When I looked at her, I thought, no, she does not look like she’s only sleeping, or what other fucktards still say to reassure themselves. She was in pain for the past week, with water filling up her lungs. And she looked like it, lying there, beneath the glass, inspite of the new silk dress, the necklace, everything that was done because of the grieving’s denial, as if to say, “I’m only sleeping, darling, no, I am not dead.”

I wonder how she felt, what she was thinking, lying in the hospital, waiting for all her damn relatives to unplug the tube and just let her be in peace already. It irked me, that week, last week. It made me mad, how my mother’s family continued to prolong her life so her other relatives from all over the world can come home and see her before she dies. This conscious decision of having her in the ICU for days and days on end, while people come and go and look at her like she’s a damn creature on display – it made me really, really mad. What is this hypocrisy for? People left, went on with their lives, forgot about her. And now, now when she is making her way towards death, reaching out her arms to embrace the thing that happens after this life, now people are clamoring to come back. What for, what for?

I tried to understand it. I tried to think about it as I stand and look at her for what I believed would be the last time, a week ago. She was conscious, breathing, looking at something only she can see. She cannot hear me, cannot even remember me now, and I can’t even touch her, no. She no longer is the woman I once knew. I don’t know the person in bed before me, and that kind of dissonance, knowing that logically she is my great grandmother, burrows a hole inside my chest.

And now she is gone.

At the wake, people trickle in, and I was constantly annoyed and amazed at how many relatives she has. These relatives, where were day in the last few years while she was succumbing to the cruel way of nature, sliding back into childhood, erasing recognition, any trace of memory? And how they had the gall to smile, to greet their condolences like someone’s having a birthday party. And what of her own daughters, who continue to fight over who’s going to get the rest of her property, who’s going to stay the night to be with her corpse, who has the biggest flower arrangement of them all. It enrages me so much I wanted to scream.

I’ve only been at the wake for a day. I think it was enough. Everything that’s there, everything was a joke.

And I wanted to protect you, Lola, I wanted to keep you away from all of them. I know we’re all holding tight to our grief, and I know we all have a right to deal with it the only way we knew how, and I’ve never been that person who can hold her heart in her hands without breaking down, and so here is a poem, here is a poem, Lola, here is a poem – because it’s the only thing I can give without having to fight back the tears:

Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be sad.

then I put him back,
but he’s still singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

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