I was eleven years old when I met her for the first time, tall and proud, she reminded me of the sturdy oak tree that lived in our front yard. She spoke no English, and I spoke no Somali, but the same blood that flowed through her veins, flowed through mine. They say blood is thicker than water, and it is. It’s so thick that it can hold you down like a paper weight, or crush you until you turn to dust.
Two years ago my grandmother moved back to Somalia. She missed home so much she couldn't bear it anymore. I remember the day she left. I can't remember ever crying that hard.
We speak on the phone a couple of times a month. She has bought a home, a piece of land she can call her own, and she nurses her sick mother there. She tells me there is a bedroom for me when I come visit.
It's hard for me to speak to her on the phone: my throat closes, my voice chokes up. Her voice brings back so many memories- it's overwhelming the way that I miss her.
We speak in the Somali she has taught me, and it's often frustrating for me- the words are heavy and awkward in my mouth. My sentences choppy and broken, but she assures me that she understands. We talk about her time in America. She tells me that I am the only thing that ever made sense to her in this foreign land.
I dream of her every once in a while. In the mornings I wake up lonely.