Love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
My father hands me a small box when I arrive for Thanksgiving break. It is from my grandmother, ninety-four and losing shreds of her clarity.

The box is the size of my palm, wooden, with seashells glued to the top. I made it for her before I was old enough to know what dementia was.

I open the box, and inside is a snippet of brown curls from my first haircut, the one she did herself.

I look back up at my father, who smiles casually, and I wonder if he doesn’t know what this gesture means or isn’t ready to face the reality of it yet.

I shut the box and set it on my bureau, smiling back.

She still lives on her own in a quaint house down the street from the rest of my family.

I spent almost every day there when I was too young to understand kidney failure and gout and aneurysms and love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too.

My grandmother is a Jehovah’s witness. She read the bible to me every day I was at her house, and told me stories about Jesus and love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too. I was confused by her conviction to a belief so fluid, yet unforgiving.

She told me that one day, Jehovah will raise the believers from the dead and they will inherit the Earth. She tells me it could be any day, that I may not ever have to die. It’s that soon, she says.

Now I am grown and agnostic and maybe still a bit too young to understand love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too.

Watching my friends lose their grandparents in high school, it always felt like something that happened to other people. My grandmother, her conviction to a far-off resurrection, always made death seem so impermanent, distant and intangible.

I have this fear that on her deathbed, she will take my hands and make me promise to find Jehovah. To look at her and say no would be devastating, but I know this is a promise I cannot keep. I’m too young to know where to look, to know about love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too.

When I go for my afternoon run on my college campus, sometimes I see stout, balding, old men with tiny, brown bibles on the quad. They reach their hands out to me and try to catch my attention, but I always keep running, running from things I don’t understand and don’t want to, running from love and loss and disorder and Jehovah too.