When I moved to New York, my grandmother was in an advanced state of Alzheimer’s disease. She lived in a nursing home, and had long forgotten her family. I told her that I was moving to New York, to follow my dream of being a book editor. She gripped my hand and babbled, but her eyes focused on me for a long moment. I knew then that my grandma, the one who always served instant mashed potatoes, who was a voracious reader, who I babysat when she was in the early stages of the disease, was looking back at me. I believe that the spirit lasts longer than the body.
My grandmother died when I had been in New York less than a year. I went to work the very next day, traveling from Brooklyn on the C train. I questioned whether I should go home for the funeral. My mom had told me not to. Suddently, I felt the same way I had when I told my grandmother I was moving to New York. My grandmother was there, watching me hold back tears on the subway, and telling me it was okay for me to go to work, to help produce the books she dearly loved.
In college, my friends and I used to play a game on road trips. We’d ask each other what we thought were deeply meaningful, philosophical questions. My favorite (both to ask and be asked) was: “If you were to die right now, this very instant, would you be happy with the life you had?” Unlike my friends, who always said some variation of that they hadn’t lived enough, I would always answer “Yes”. Although I have no rational evidence and I can’t explain it, I knew then and I still know now that my spirit will last longer than my body, that my grandma is waiting for me to show up so I can finally learn how to play cribbage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell her how the air smells in the New York Public Library, and how I fell in love; maybe I’ll even last long enough to get married. But I still believe, that no matter what, my spirit will exist much longer than the physical body I’m in now.
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