Exercice 57 of 3 A.M. Epiphany


A heavy silence spread in the room, creating a melancholy tension among the participants. The familiar faces seemed to play like innocent children not to be the first to speak. Unfortunately, there was no game, they just could not break the silence. It was less painful to imprison our feelings than to share them and finish breaking our hearts in tears.

I was sit on my grandfather’s old chair, it still kept his smell of coffee, newspaper, and honey. It was a particular smell that I could only describe as “the smell of my grandfather.” When I was a child, he often called me to invite me to sit on his lap, and he related. He related his childhood memories during the Second World War in the South of France, he related his incredible crusades in the deserts of Africa, he related his exploits in Antananarivo in Madagascar when he was doing his researches of the island’s vanilla. “Do you want to hear the story of the coughing doll?” He asked. Sometimes, it was the story of the chicken that had found a knife, but in any case the story was never the same, but it was always passionnant.

Imprisoned with my childhood memories that I would have liked to see been repeated infinitely, my 8-year-old cousin approached me and asked:

“I want to know… Can I talk to papi today too?”

Heart closed, incredibly compressed, I gave her what I thought was a tender glance and told her that she could help me write what I was going to say about him to the family. Then, I told her that I was not going to talk to my Grandfather because he was sleeping. He was asleep, and he was not going to wake up.

My family was looking sadly to us, and yet, my uncles still did not come to help me. After trying for a long time to make my point clear, she started complaining and crying. She was not crying for the same reason my grandmother and my aunt were, she was crying because she couldn’t understand why he had left without her.


“I want him to come back. Can I go sleep with him too?” she asked, practically screaming.
I tried not to loose my temper, I knew I was supposed to be the strongest one in the family.

In times of grief, I was supposed to take care of my cousins while my uncles and my parents were planning the funeral. I decided to take her to the room next to the living room, and told her to stay still.

“Papi loved us all, I wish I could be with him now, too. He was really sick, it was too hard for him to stay awake with us. So he had to leave. He left but he still loves us, he is now in the sky taking care of us. Every night, in your prayers, you can talk to him, and even if you can not hear him back, I assure you he will be there for you,” I explained.

She seemed to understand the complexity of death, so she did not ask anything else and preferred no stay in the incomprehensible rather than believing he did not want to be with her anymore. Abandon is not something we can understand, in this case, it was probably better to agree my hypothesis was true.

After I had read the lines I wrote for him to honour the incredible man my grandfather was, my cousin stand up to talk also for him. Earlier, we had prepared a sweet and tender text for her to say in front of my family, one that my grandmother would appreciate. And she said:

“I just wanted to say that I love you, papi. I miss you already and I want you to come back because I do not want you to be in the stars.”

She took the paper we had written before, and started reading what he had prepared. I looked at my family, they were all too touched from her previous speech that they could not focus on what she was saying now.

I could feel the thoughts flood the heavy silence, they were tears and memories. We wanted him back, too.

We were older and able to make hypothesis and explanations, but at the end, we were as useless as she was. There was nothing to understand from his loss.