Your grandmother is dead.
This hits you at once—like slamming your fingers in a car door—as you sit watching television in a darkened room. The pulsing light from the television crawls on you. A man on the screen says a single word. “No,” he says.
“No,” you repeat.
The movie has nothing to do with your grandmother. The movie is about a dog. Your grandmother has been gone for years. But the pain is now.
The pain is big.
You remember a frigid winter morning. So chilly, you felt the cold squeezing and pushing to get inside your grandparent’s crooked old house. You sat on a stool near the gas stove in the kitchen, bathing in heat. The heat waves crawled on you. Sitting at the table nearby, your grandmother was laughing. “No,” she said, finally.
Most of the details are gone now. You were not yet eighteen then.
No, your grandmother had not heard the funny story about the naked boy who crashed into a locked door while trying to streak through the pizza parlor where you worked after school.
Sitting on your sofa, you hook tears away from your eyes with your index finger. You are wondering if you are remembering the sound of your grandmother’s laughter correctly. It’s important that you remember the exact sound.
Last week, raucous flights of geese started migrating south, skimming right over your house. Statistically, your life is well beyond half-over. On television, the dog is dead.