Squatting in my grandma's condo

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The Christmas just before my grandmother died, we had gone down to Cinci to visit her. About a month later, we were spending the night there while visiting her in the hospital, in a coma following her second stroke. We knew we would never see her awake again. It was really strange spending the night in her condo without her there, although there was a strange, both comforting and discomfiting, feeling of her presence. Her characteristic hospitality was missing, of course, but even as we helped ourselves to food and bedding, it still felt like grandma's house, as if she could emerge from another room at any moment.

A month or so later, we were back again to go through her things. Again, we spent the night in her condo, but she was long gone. The strangeness from the previous visit was back, but intensified. Her things were still there, mostly, but it no longer smelled like grandma's house: her perfumes, her cooking, the residual smells that sink into our environments from our daily living, gone.

I'd been to her funeral Mass, said my goodbyes both in the hospital and at the graveside. I'd already been in her house without her there. But it was when her home no longer smelled of her that it really hit me she was gone.

Created: Mar 17, 2011


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