In Utero

Day 0–4

On days like today, it seems all I can do is cry.

I wonder if my grandmother cried this way.

Did she cry on that day when she witnessed her father’s murder at the age of five? The fate of a child born in times of genocide.

Or some weeks later, when she was separated from her mother and sisters and taken to an orphanage in a new country where she would have to learn a new language in order to survive? Did she cry enough tears to wash away a lifetime of sorrow that came with never again receiving her mother’s comfort or her sisters’ love?

Or when she was a young mother who suffered the unthinkable loss of her own first born child? A young toddler boy just learning to run.

Did she cry some years later, when she and her husband and children were evacuated from their home in an overnight raid, separated from the only extended family that they knew and forced to flee with nothing but the possessions that would fit into their tiny car?

Did she cry each time a bomb would drop?

Or when she received a phone call with someone on the other end sharing the tragic news that her youngest child, her only surviving son, was killed in a mine in arctic Canada?

Did she cry when her middle daughter, the one who came from England to care for her during her final years of life, died of a brain tumour?

Or when she took her own last breath?

Of course I know she cried. Yet all I can remember is her warmth and the most beautiful smile she wore. A woman with a heart so full and a spirit so generous.

I wonder. Did she know that all the tears she cried would make my life possible?

For without her tears, I would not know the river of grace that keeps me afloat on days like today.

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