Between the Sunday morning that she stopped breathing and the Tuesday that is right now, three people have lain in the place where Abuelita lived her last five years.
What looked like a fragile bed.
My tío Alex slept in it after her viewing. We thought he was going to break it. It survived. It’s very strong.
Walking past what was her bedroom door some hours ago, I glimpsed my tío Ricardo lying in the bed, staring at the ceiling fan. It was clear that he was thinking.
Now, everybody has left to attend one of the first in a series of three evening masses being held for Abuelita.
They left me behind because at the restaurant, after the funeral, two cousins and an aunt pressured me into lifting a pickled pig’s foot to my mouth. I chewed around its nail and washed the clammy edges down with coffee.
Whose nails was I chewing?
The foot began to buck this morning.
Momentarily, it squirms, quivering.
So, in the house with the side-by-side beds where both of my grandparents died, approximately two months and two days apart from each other, I and the foot walk alone.
The thing that calls us is her bed.
I go and lie in it. With hoof tracing my stomach wall, I see what Abuelita saw for the last five years.
There is a sensation of her hereness and his hereness and their teasing each other and her wearing a shawl that I remember.
She made clothes.
She made kindness.
She made people.
There is the knowledge of what hung over her.
There is the sight of my own foot curled at the foot of the bed. I slid the socks over her bare feet while she was still warm but slightly stiff. They were my socks, Christmas presents, but now they accompany her forever.
Some piece of linen smells of her life and death at the same time.
The yin and yang smells are something you can’t and don’t necessarily want to rinse away. Something horribly delicious in their coexistence.