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A Bluish Heart

When my grandmother died, I was pregnant. My mother told the funeral, even though she was forbidden to do so. Good news had to be shared.

And my aunts said, “A life for a death,” they kissed me, and put their hands on my belly.

When my grandfather died, I was driving on the highway. It was pouring rain, the little girl was dizzy, and she was vomiting and crying, sitting in her car seat. I was singing lullabies to her in the hope that she would calm down, while with the corner of one eye I was watching her in the rearview mirror, and with the other I was looking for an exit where I could stop the car.

My cell phone rang, and I picked it up distractedly. Between my daughter’s crying, the sound of the rain, and the beat of the windshield wipers, my mother’s distant and sad voice could hardly be heard, and she had to repeat the bad news several times.
I found a service road, stopped the car on the shoulder, cleaned the girl as best I could, and hugged her tightly against my body until she fell asleep, completely exhausted and still sticky.

Her heart was beating hard, glued to mine, and at that moment, on the rainy shoulder of the service road, I thought for the first time of my grandfather’s heart, which had stopped beating.

It would be cold and hard by now, perhaps bluish. We had all fit in it. Two parents, three brothers, a wife, six children, thirteen grandchildren, three great-grandchildren.

When we emptied the house, we found a bundle of love letters in the drawer of an old wooden dressing table.

And my aunts said: “Keep the coquette, which belonged to your great-grandmother. It’s a good, old, dark wood piece of furniture with a mercury mirror of the kind they don’t make anymore.”At that time, one of my office mates had to send a letter for an administrative matter, and she asked me where the stamp went. She had grown up with the Internet, and her love letters had been typed on the keyboard.

I did send some love letters, from New York and from Manchuria while I was studying languages. But I have not kept the ones I received. They were not as many as the ones my grandmother received. Her courtship lasted four years, and the previous courtship another two.

It took me months to read them all. And I nearly forgot that he was not still alive. Finding that bundle of letters, and thus continuing to listen to his voice, was as if that heart, in spite of its blueness, had never stopped beating.

The day I finished reading the last letter, I cried all the tears I had not shed in the rain on that service road of the A-6, and began to write. But the bad thing about the dead is that they almost never write you back. In the end, it was my mother who kept the dark wood antique.

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