Today, at 5:15AM PST, my grandmother passed away. We all knew it was coming; hospice had been coming now for two weeks…
Last night she couldn’t breathe. Oxygen didn’t help. It was inevitable.
However, during my long trip I took through mid-May ’til the beginning of June was more than to visit Sarah. It was to visit my grandmother, my teta. A little woman with a fiery spirit, her hair had long since faded from deep brown – almost black – to silvery-white but the dark brown eyes she’d been known for were bright as ever when I visited her and my grandfather, my jido.
While I have many cousins – first, second, even third -, I am her direct descendant. My mother is her second child as well as her only other daughter. I am my mother’s only daughter. I inherited my teta’s dark hair and dark eyes, and for that, I’m very thankful. I like to think I also gained her spirit and for that…I’m even more thankful.
Teta was superstitious, funny, intelligent, lovable, a bit of a drama queen, kind, and she believed in a lot of good things. Honestly, she was a lot of things. But most of all, she was a human being like all of us, and she is no longer in pain.
My teta stood tall at only five-foot-nothin’. When I saw her in May, osteoporosis had caused her to hunch but her smile was bright as ever. Cancer has stolen her energy; age had taken its toll on her joints and bones. But when we sat to talk, she was alive. Her eyes were on fire.
I sat there eating one of the cupcakes she’d made for me – she’d made a whole meal, the determined thing, since I’d “come all the way from Iowa” and she didn’t know when she’d see me again, if ever – while she made herself comfortable. We launched into story. Regaling each other with the trials and tribulations with laughter, sarcasm, and hope for a better day. Hearing her talk, it was hard to call her as “fragile” as some claimed she was. Teta was a fighter, in many, many ways.
But this conversation took an interesting turn. “You’re my granddaughter, Anastasia,” she’d said, holding out a small, veined hand. It trembled and I took it. “And I love you. And I see so much of your mother in you. I see a lot of me too. Lots of dreams. And I know you can do great things with that, honey, I know you.”
Those words bring tears to my eyes now.
She’d asked to see the comic since she couldn’t figure out how to use the URL in her e-mail (which still makes me laugh). So I sat down to show her Ever Night. Sarah and I were only in the middle of the prologue then, but she and Jido were so proud, I thought her face would split from how much she beamed. “Oh, Stasia, read it out loud, honey,” she urged, setting her hands on my shoulders and playing with my curls.
What would you do?–I did. I read it to her. She was so enthused. Teta wanted to print it off, but I knew it’d eat all her ink. Instead I promised to send it to her, which I did as soon as the prologue concluded and Sarah had made her changes.
Out of anyone who had asked about the comic and had never read a webcomic before, Teta (along with Jido) understood it easiest. “It’s like an online serial comic, just like you’d get in the newspaper, only instead of a strip like Peanuts, ours is telling a longer story. So it’s more like a serial-style novel, just done visually rather than all in words. It’s updated so many times a week to continue the story while it remains free. If people want to buy it, Sarah and I will have it in book form then for people to purchase.”
And out of anyone, my grandparents were the most understanding of two artists starting out.
I find it funnily ironic – in the best of ways – that today’s post is the fifth page of chapter one. 1:5, if you will. But more than that… The last line. The line I’d had to change to reflect a dialogue change in the previous page: “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”
Thank you, Teta. I know you’re fine. So thank you. I love you. I always, always will. Hers hoping I make you as proud as I made you that day. I hope that I can grab hold of my dreams…not only for you, but for your mother, for my mother, and for the daughters I will one day have. For my niece, the closest thing I have to a sister; my seventeen-year-old inspiration for Aila, in many ways, as well as the person Aila is most dedicated to.
So… This is a very close-to-my-heart entry. No editing. No retcon’d flourish.
This is what it is. Exactly as I wrote it.
And for all that my teta gave me, I dedicate this comic in memoriam to Violet Nohmy. You were born as a member of “the greatest generation,” as Peter Jennings said. Thank you, Teta, so much.
Teta? Sarah and I will make this something great – and I ask our readers to help us make this something great.
Not just for me, but for anyone who has lost someone they loved and for anyone who wants to show the later generations that there is something worth fighting for.
To quote Gurren Lagann: “I will pierce the heavens!”
And I’ll end with Teta’s favorite quotation and bio from Facebook:
“You are only as old as you feel.”
“I enjoy taking roads I have never been down before.”
I love you, Teta.