As I held the softened by years tissue paper, I could instantly recall the weight I felt as I walked around in my wedding dress. With my hair pulled back in a bun, and wearing mismatched, baggy clothing, I placed clumsily the large mass that it had now become, into a half empty cardboard box. I had been debating on taking it with me, but then, what type of woman would I be if I left it behind. I just wasn't ready to accept that woman yet. That would still take a while. As I packed, I still had this sense of obligation. It was a heavy load, that I had been carrying with me my whole life. But I could feel my finger slipping. I could feel it dragging on the floor.
I looked down at the white fluffy flowering of tissue paper and fabric, with a sprinkle of glittering Swarovski crystals. That day, starting at midnight was a heavy memory. It was midnight, the beginning of my wedding day, and the phone rang. The shrill of its ring surprised me. I knew it was not a good phone call.
“Christine, it's your cousin. Grandma, just passed away. I wasn't sure if I should make this phone call, but I thought you should know.”
With the phone still in my hand I replayed my last memory of my grandmother. It was fall. Greyness surrounded the auburn trees and I sat quietly on the carpeted floor, drawing shapes.
“Chrissy, I will be going to your wedding.”
“Grandma, it's ok. You’re sick. But I’ll call you and tell you all about it.”
“No, look at me. I will be there. Don't you worry about that.”
I guess she kept her promise to me.
Unable to sleep, I finally got up at 7am. I had a heaviness that made me sigh, and to me it felt real, as if the heaviness were chains that fell upon my chest and down my back. But everyone around me acted as if everything was normal. Everyone except for my abuelito. I had been staring out the kitchen window, which faced a brick wall. Could feel that someone was looking at me, and turned my empty glance towards the presence. It was my abuelito with eyes closed he came up to me.
“Mijitica.” He said and with his left hand caressed my jaw, while lifting my face. Our eyes met, and he smiled as his other hand cupped my right cheek. A tear fell silently down my skin, and he wiped it away. The chains lifted a bit, and I thanked him with a forced smile. I had to pretend as if the chains weren’t there either, but I knew they weren’t only there because of my grandmother. I knew they were there because of something else, something I could not even admit to myself.
The day was a blur of pampering, eating, and family. I was barely present for any of it, each event interrupted with a heavy sigh, a gasp to take in the air. And just like that day turned into night. The heaviness of the chains materialized into my stiff heavy dress. Pictures were taken, family gathered, and I walked. Surrounded by lights, gold, and family I felt the urge to run, but I was cemented there in front of the priest, pen in hand signing my name away to him. “This is a mistake.” I kept repeating to myself. “I don't want to be here.”
It would take me nine years to finally say that. And as I closed the box of heaviness with duct tape I took another sigh. The air filled my lungs. I was starting to make my own choices. The chains of obligation, still there but loosened.
Soon, the sighs would end.
Continues on the 23 of July, read also the First Part