My grandma was born in Korea, raised in Japan so her name: Kumiko. Though, only I knew that. I gave her English lessons, and she made me paper fans or microwaved eel over rice. I slept over her house all the way to the 11th grade. She was my only family in the states, or so worth calling.
Something that stayed with me, unfortunately, was an incident at her funeral. One “family” member, with the backing of many others, accused me of not mourning enough for Grandma. It was a public accusation. I was nineteen. And from it, utter humiliation and ridicule haunted me for years, though the guiltless accuser likely forgot the incident in a minute’s time.
Yesterday, I visited my grandma’s gravesite at Gate of Heaven in Los Gatos. I kneeled in the grass and thought she had the nicest picture on the block. I now have an answer to that accuser (and fellows). I mourned in private because I was afraid. If anyone—even those who knew Grandma—got a glimpse of my pain, they would see into my relationship with Kimiko. They would see our jargon, our stories, and the way we were. I wasn’t ready to share that. At nineteen, bereft and in pieces, I wanted to keep her mine and only mine for a little longer. Even then, you took from me whatever composure I could barely muster.