1981. Lots of people in a very big room. Grandma, center stage, lying very still peacefully… in what looked like a box… surrounded by flowers. Her eyes closed. She didn’t look completely like herself, but I knew it was her. No matter who said what, she didn’t respond. Grandma Pina had died. Although I didn’t understand death, I knew I would never see her again. I vaguely remember Mama crying, but I know it must’ve hurt to see her Mother, my grandmother…. Like that…..
So there I was. Five years old. Just beginning to know the people in my life. Who they were. Why they were significant. What their roles were in my life. Romping around the neighborhood without a care in the world. Beginning to build familial relationships and friendship ties. Learning about life from the perspective of a young girl. Without warning it all changed. The security of family, friends and community – gone.
We moved from Chicago, IL to Racine, WI. From Racine to Milwaukee, WI. Mama didn’t seem too interested in being a mother. She disappeared for days at time. No food. No clean clothes. Just me and my sisters. Sometimes there would be a man or a stranger with us, but rarely Mama. We didn’t go to school. We didn’t have friends. We only had each other.
What do you do when you’re so young and you’ve been uprooted from the stability you knew? How are you supposed to feel? How do you cope with your own grief of losing a loved one? How do you continue to learn how to build healthy relationships with people and lasting friendships? The immediate answer is, you don’t. The most important question of them all, why are these even questions pertaining to a small child?
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