i actually never called her abuela. only grandma.  her name was Anna Marie Lopez.  and she was my best friend. funny. she wasnt very nurturing. and was never really vocal about her love. but i could just feel how much she loved me. her silent gestures of pure and unconditional love were profound.  she lived with us until i was about nine or so. until she couldnt bear not one more of my fathers violent drunken episodes.  and when she left. i was completely heartbroken.  i remember saying. but who is going to play with me? and then i was truly ALONE. to bear the violent drunken episodes by myself. i went to visit her often. in her high-rise project building in coney island. one block from the beach. perfect for her. she loved the sun and the boardwalk. she was simple. she loved watching wrestling. and her soap operas. she would scream at the TV. urging for someone to smack someone. actually that applied to both wrestling and the soap operas. she liked sunkist soda. and smoked virginia slims. her hair was dyed honey blond. and she had a mini fro. she painted her nails. and her adorable toes. she hated taking pictures. and she loved to read any book that featured Fabio on the cover. she clipped coupons and played her numbers. she loved her tiny apartment. and the smell of the ocean that filled it. she was sarcastic and not easily amused. and she had the most precious smile. when she let you see it.

i remember the devastation in her eyes. when she found out i was pregnant. she immediately asked the nurse for abortion information. it was one of the few times i saw her cry. i didnt have an abortion. and she took wonderful care of me during my pregnancy. i woke every morning to a bowl of cereal waiting for me. we would watch her soap operas together. both screaming for someone to smack someone. we shopped together. and held hands. i walked at her pace. and stopped when she needed to rest.  that was the year we truly became best friends. 

she had a heart attack on mothers day of 1993, and died three days later, less than a month before i gave birth to my daughter. and approximately six months after my father passed away. i remember the last time i saw her. hooked up to a million tubes. helpless. she hated feeling helpless. i bought her a plant in this ceramic planter. i held it up and said “for you grandma.” she struggled to smile. the tubes and tape restricted her. but she wouldnt have smiled big for me anyway. they had taken out her false teeth. she hated that. made her feel old. i told her i would take the plant home for her. and i left her for the night.

and then.

she left us.

it destroyed my world.

but i hold on to our precious memories.

she will always be my best friend.

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