Let me start this by saying: My lovely mom and I have been planning this for almost two months. So I am very happy to finally being able to post this (also, THIS is the reason, why I wasn’t posting more frequently in the last month or so – out of fear, I would say something, that would ruin the surprise!)
Now, this is a short introduction to my older brother Norms:
He is 26 years old (2 years and exactly 2 months older than me), he is a Pisces and a Tiger. He is a little bit taller than me, short brown hair, dark eyes. He is also not quite what I would call the most welcoming person upon first arrival but once he gets to know you, he will be your friend for a lifetime. He does everything for his friends and family, the only thing he expects in return is respect. He is a family-oriented person, he would go the extra mile for family members without flinching once. He is persistent and has a lot of perseverance. He is a technical person who does not like to argue (however he likes winning arguments) and above all his shortcomings, he is a dedicated dad.
As a child I always wanted to be like my big brother. I would brag about him in front of my friends, would tell them, that he would beat them up, if they wouldn’t let me play with them (and since he was bigger than them, they respected him and let me play with them). I would pretend I was his most-favorite side-kick, kind of like Batman and Robin (one of his most favorite TV series). I wanted to be just like him, I imitated his style of clothing, I would listen to music just because he did, I would eat only things, he would and I would always see what he was up to. Always ready to be able to play with him, if he had a free minute.
One day I realized though that Norms and I are not the same person, in fact we are very much like night and day, it started with little things like: realizing that I am no good at any kinds of sports (especially not soccer), I hate math (which he of course was good at), I loved to read and write (which he absolutely dreaded), I thought going fishing was boring (which he loved doing, he’d go almost every weekend with my grandpa) and I thought chess was for geeks (which is why I stopped playing).
I told you about my 18th birthday a few weeks ago, and that he didn’t mention a single thing to me, right? Well, this time, it was my time to keep quiet. My mom, my dad, my aunt and uncle, my grandpa and four of my best friends (all located in Vienna) knew that I was coming to Austria at the end of May. In retrospect is rather surprising, that word didn’t get spread like wildfire over facebook, twitter and several other online platforms. But my goal was, not to tell my older brother, he was in for a sweet surprise.
I left mid-afternoon on Monday, 21st of May. My parents had clear instructions on not telling anyone that I was coming, they were also instructed to make reservations at a restaurant and have everyone meet there, shortly after my arrival. My dad picked me up from the airport, just as giddy as I was, I know that, because a few days earlier he sent me tons of texts about how the arrangements were going. My dad and I parked the car in front of the restaurant and went in.
We carefully picked a table, that upon entering the restaurant, wasn’t easily visible and then the waiting began. We waited for about 30 minutes, always looking at the entrance, making sure, that they weren’t here yet (and by they, I mean my mom, my brothers and my niece) and then, my dad whispered, ‘hide’, which I did, under the table. In retrospect, yes, this was really odd but it was soooo worth it!!!!
I waited until they were close enough until I popped up from under the table and Norms was flabbergasted. He wasn’t quite sure if I was, who he thought I was. He hugged me and started laughing and crying and smiling and was just amazed. My mom and my younger brother started crying, happy tears that is. My younger brother also didn’t have a clue and both of my brothers said, that they didn’t expect a single thing. And then of course, the most joyous thing, the thing I was looking forward too for the past five months, I finally got to hold my little niece again.
It’s been two very long months since the funeral.
Let me start off by saying that I do believe that my grandmother is at a better place now and that I am sure, that she feels painless and maybe even carefree. Maybe even happy. But then again maybe we just tell ourselves those little lies so we can cope better with the loss, who knows? I do miss her an awful lot and there is nothing in the world I’d rather do than talking to her. I wish I could pick up the phone, dial her number and hear her surprised voice, when she recognizes me. I wish I could ask her how she was doing and ask her if I could stop by for a coffee and a chat. And she would instantly say yes and tell me to come on over when ever I feel like it.
I wish I could do that right now, head to my grandmother’s that is. Only now she is not there anymore, now it’s my grandfather’s home. Don’t get me wrong, it has always been his home as well but somehow, even when we went to see him, we would always say ‘let’s stop by at Omi’s’. Now I can’t say that anymore, not without a feeling of emptiness anyways.
All the stories she told me over the years, all the funny little moments, all our shared moments come rushing back to me, every now and then and it makes me sad and vulnerable, but most of all empty. I wish she was still here with me, still talking to me, laughing with me, I wish I could feel her tight hugs and her soft kisses. But those little things are only memories now.
Like every person in pain I try to find something to blame. Something I can get angry about, something to destroy, something to make me feel better again. But the truth is, there is nothing to be angry about and nothing to blame. People die, either because they are old, they had an accident or they get sick. That is natural and everybody needs to learn how to deal with it.
Up to a few years ago cancer to me was another sickness humanity couldn’t cure. I couldn’t relate to it, it was something very distant, something that didn’t bother me. It was kind of like ‘someone else’s problem – let them deal with it’. Now I have my very own face of cancer, I have my grandmother. I still wish that there was something I could have done for my grandmother but the truth is, there was nothing. I know that, I just don’t want to believe it.
Now it is up to me to tell her story, the story of my grandmother, so her face will be remembered among all the souls who have and had to fight cancer. So maybe, one day we can find a cure, maybe one day we can help and make it better, maybe one day.
But for now, my most favorite story of my grandmother:
She was only 4 or 5 years old when her mom sent her to the convenience store around the corner to get a kilogram of coffee. So, my little grandmother walked in and ordered the coffee. The cashier-lady went into the other room to get the order, leaving my grandmother alone in the front store. My grandma waited patiently but right in front of her on the cashier counter, was a big pile of chocolate pieces on display and although my grandmother knew, she couldn’t afford to buy a piece, she still reached for one and quickly put it in her mouth before the cashier came back. After that my grandma received the coffee and put it in her bag, she paid for the coffee and was ready to leave, but before she left, the cashier looked her in her blue eyes and said, ‘I know that you took a piece. For now you are off the hook but don’t do that again.’ My grandma ran home as quickly as she could, never telling the story anyone.
But many years later, when she told me the story, she said, there was never a piece of chocolate that tasted that good.