The exchange of words is repetitive.
by Maia Mayor
Thrown back and forth in a never ending game of tag
we've been playing for years.
Balancing english and broken spanish on the tip of the tongue,
I've become accustomed to the routine.
But not her.
Not my grandmother.
No, she says it with unwavering enthusiasm like she's playing to win.
"I love you, mucho mucho! " Two much.
Like the amount of wine coating her lips a dark shade of red.
She delivers each word with the careful deliberation of a child learning to read.
Slurring every syllable,
she sounds like wax dripping down the side of a candle.
Slow, messy, and mesmerizing in a way I can't always explain.
But sober or drunk with emotion,
I love her just the same.
And I wish she only knew.
On quiet nights I can hear her words travel through the walls.
She is talking to a friend describing the inflection of my voice when I say "I love you."
"It's not strong enough, " she says.
Like the words hold no weight. Like she doesn't quite believe me.
Like my Spanglish isn't translating when I say "I love you, mucho mucho." Two much.
But no amount of words would be enough to describe the sentiment.
Sometimes, she invents new ways to say it.
When Spanish gets too complicated
she conveys love through hand gestures like secret handshakes.
Breaks down language barriers by carrying kisses in her palms.
She is strong in a way I'll never be.
Her body crumbles under the weight of mortality.
But she thanks God for every day she wakes up to see the sun rise.
And when the pain of 83 years threatens to break her
I say the phrase over and over, "I love you, mucho mucho." Two much.
Like these magic words might be enough to save her.