"Don't say that," I admonished her. But I had to understand that she'd just been through a lot, even going into an almost fatal diabetic shock during her hospital stay after the stroke. My grandma generally has a sense of humor, but it's become increasingly clear that old age is depressing her.
With the death of my grandfather last year, her own mortality has become more profound to her and to my family.
On that Sunday, I was late. I pushed the heavy stroller down the concrete blocks, rushing past the local high school and corner store and pizzeria until I reached the church. I was eager to drop Equis off with my mother so I could get some rest back at home.
Little did I know that I'd end up staying for the entire service while still wearing my pajamas, fighting with my grandma to leave.
"I think Grandma had a stroke," she said, her usually firm voice cracking even in a whisper.
I looked over at Abuela who was staring straight ahead listening to the Pastor speak. The entire left side of her pale face was drooping. "Hola, Abuela. How are you feeling?" I asked her.
"Bien. Good," she smiled, and only the right side of her lips rose.
"Mom! Why isn't she in the hospital?" I whispered loudly.
My mom frowned even more deeply, the tears behind her glasses slipping slowly down to her round cheeks. "She doesn't wanna go. She said she wanted to come to church. She refused. I can't force her."
"We have to force her," I responded, and she finally agreed to go five hours later.
My mom is her primary caretaker now, but my uncles, sister and I all try to take turns sleeping at her house during the week and taking her to appointments or the grocery store or the bank. Sleeping over my Abuela's house in the summer is usually very hot, but Abuela loves spending time with Equis.
She and Equis draw together, and he loves to eat her rice and beans. I have fond memories of watching my grandmother draw in a spiral notebook with a blue pen, making lines and circles to depict the houses in Puerto Rico where she grew up; and I'm grateful that Equis gets to experience this part of his great-grandma too.
I don't want my abuela to die. I want her to live into her hundreds. I want her to remember to take her slew of pills and turn off the stove.
Every day, I am scared that I will get a horrible phone call that will break me down. Just thinking about it makes me cry. I love Abuela. She's always been there for my sister and me and now for Equis and her other great-grandchildren. I am terrified to lose her because she is my family, because she is beautiful inside and out.