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The clocks strikes 3 PM, the sound of a key being hit against the metal door signaling our arrival. Inaudible commotion is heard as the wooden door opens and I see the welcoming smile of my grandma. As soon as I enter the humble home, every sense in my body is stimulated; my eyes follow everyone gathering around the dining table. I can smell the chili and feel the warmness of my grandpa's menudo. The smell is so strong I can almost taste it, but I'm interrupted by the screams and eager hugs of my nieces. It is another Sunday at my grandparents' house. It is memories embedded in my mind.
We grew older, busier, troubled, and away. I saw the small dining room that had once been overcrowded grow lonelier. The extra chairs were stashed away and soon enough, so were we. On January 2018, I lost my favorite chef, storyteller, singer, and second father: My grandpa. It is only then that I realized my biggest regret: I let that long-standing tradition fade as my worries in life grew. I counted the birthdays I had missed and the excuses I had made—none of them were relevant anymore.
Now that childhood home feels a little emptier, a little colder, I can't bare holding the weekly get-togethers in there anymore. It is in my nature—in my body and my soul—to have the pull of expectation to hear his laugh and get a whiff of that familiar cologne that once comforted me so.
We still meet on Sundays, but now in my uncle's house. I sit in front of my grandma and see the empty chair beside her. Today, that chair that once had been his is taken by one of my little cousins. I'm an observer. My grandma sits and eats her food quietly, always with a thoughtful countenance. I see my little cousins busy playing and coloring their time away, and I wonder. I wonder if they know how much time they have left. I wonder if they can embroider the worn features of her face in their mind: The crow's feet forming in her eyes, the beautiful spots of a cheetah, and her motherly scent every one of her hugs carries. So I ask myself, is it too late now to make up for the mistakes that I did? How do you make up for the lost memories?
I hope they realize soon that they don't have much time left.