Packing all of your things to make them all fit in a suitcase is quite daunting. That’s your whole life right there, all cramped and disorderly and haphazardly shoved into a suitcase that is barely keeping everything together that it needs a fragile label for the bag itself. It was a miracle it all fit. Though, you gave most of your appliances, books, and any other stuff you deemed bulky or unnecessary away. Finally, backpack slung over your shoulder, suitcase in hand, you head to the station.
After finding yourself a seat by the window, you make yourself comfortable on the seat, clutching your backpack to your chest and trying not to think about the reason you’re going back after four years away from home.
Has it been four years though? It felt like less than that. Time seems to go by quickly especially when you’re busy trying to get by, barely surviving trying to make ends meet just to live the life you want. Though, are you even living at this point? Living day to day lately hasn’t felt like anything. You just go through the motions, getting everything done. Every day is dull, repetitive, unfulfilling. All the while you question yourself, just what is the point of everything? You’re just tired of everything. What purpose is there to what you are doing? You take a deep breath. It isn’t good to be thinking such thoughts, especially since you are in a public transport. You fall asleep keeping the tears that usually follow when you start thinking of such things at bay. No one notices the few that manage to slip out.
You are jolted awake by a bump in the road. Blearily blinking into wakefulness, you notice that the young teen engrossed in his phone who occupied the seat beside you is now replaced by an old lady who smelled of ointment and herbs. She was carefully folding a piece of paper before pocketing it into one of the front pockets of her jacket. She turns to you and smiles, you awkwardly smile back. Praying that she won’t try to start a conversation, you opt to look out the window. You never knew what to do when someone you weren’t close with, mainly strangers, tried talking to you. She pokes you. You sigh inwardly, you suppose it was inevitable. Leaning toward you slightly, she whispers, “Where are we now?” as if imparting the latest gossip. “I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the places around here.” You answer, trying not to stammer. She gives a slight nod then turns to ask the passenger to her left the same question. This time, they give her a more informative answer.
The sky was turning grey. A light drizzle started, which quickly turned into an impromptu downpour which lasted for only about a minute before returning to the comforting drizzle it was a while ago. Your eyes follow the droplets as they slide down the window. The steady rocking of the vehicle was slowly lulling you to sleep. Your eyelids gradually close and you don’t notice you’ve fallen asleep once more until it has completely claimed you in its grasp.
This time, it’s a child’s sharp cry that wakes you. The poor disgruntled father had to stand in the moving vehicle just to rock the baby to sleep. Their bags, mostly things for the baby as you see diapers and bottles peeking out, have replaced the old lady who sat by you. You look out the window and finally start to see some familiar looking landscapes. You are determined this time not to fall asleep. Missing your stop would be such a disaster.
You find your grandfather waiting for you at the station. He pretty much looked the same, though a bit older and a bit weaker. After the usual greetings and having your suitcase loaded into the car, you offer to be the one to drive out of consideration. Your grandfather though still as stubborn, refused. “You’re tired from all that traveling.” he says. “Next time, next time you can drive all you want.” he promises.
A lot has changed since you went away. The trees are taller, new houses are popping up were there were once only fields and forests, the pond you used to catch tadpoles in is gone, the tree in front of the library has been cut down, fences on other old houses, new cars, new people, new scenery.
Some things have stayed the same though. The store on the corner is still there, though their business is thriving evident by the bigger place and newer design and paint job. The tree you used to climb on when you were little is still there, the big house on the hill with the red roof is didn’t seem to go through any renovations, and your grandparent’s house, the house you used to call home and is still and will always be home is still there like you never left at all.
The scent of old books and dust with a hint of the stink of the chemical your grandmother uses to curl her hair hits you as you enter the door. It was nostalgic, you really missed this. You also missed the smell of fresh baked bread, though you know it was unlikely for you to encounter it now since your grandmother stopped baking a few years ago, even before you left. though it was always that combination of smells that reminded you of this home, so not encountering just one of them felt a bit off. Looking around the house, you notice that only a few things have been moved. Everything was the same, a bit dustier but the still the same as when you left.
You know how it is here, so you start to work on preparing lunch. You slip right into the motions. You know where every item is stored. It was comforting in a way.
After a light lunch and a small argument on who would wash the dishes, it was a lighthearted joke about almost destroying your grandmother’s prized china that forced you both to address what you didn’t want to when you just arrived. “Where is she?” you ask him. You grandfather sighs and gives you one of those comforting side hugs he always does and just says, “Tomorrow, I’ll take you there tomorrow.”
You arrive at the cemetery the next day. You try but fail to blink back the tears as you stand facing her headstone. You grandfather quietly stands by you, and arm around you for comfort. You’re hugging him back. “I’m sorry I wasn’t at the funeral.” You apologize. “It’s okay. You’re here now. Besides, you never liked funerals.” He replies. You know it shouldn’t be an excuse, yet a part of you is relieved. You wouldn’t have been able to bear to look at her, all dolled up in the coffin, yet looking so wrong, so lifeless.
It came out of nowhere, the news. It was a bad fall. And just like that, one mistake, one wrong step and then she’s gone. You were sick when the call came. Hospitalized and unable to leave, all you could do was cry in bed. You weren’t even able to say goodbye. And as you stand there, cool breeze blowing in your hair, in the warm embrace of one of you last supports, you know the loss of her is the greatest change of all.