Pepsi and Pringles
Since I can remember, the first thing anyone gets offered at my Grandma's house, after the warm hug and broad smile, are Pepsi and Pringles.
Any gentle refusals, which as a kid came solely on my unwilling behalf from my health nut of a mother, fall on (nearly) deaf ears. Barely after you've ducked under the spray of jasmine to cross the welcome mat, both the cold, fizzing and mustachioed, rattling cans are pressed earnestly into your hands.
Even now, even today, every slight movement twisting a knife of arthritic pain into her hunched body, she strains to reach for a can to pass me.
That ever-present smile beams from her nest in the couch, rows of pearly white dentures laughing through her rapid-fire ("Is your boyfriend here? How is he? Tell your sister to trade her horse for a husband. Did you watch the World Cup? Nike did well?").
The room starts to fill with family, and she smiles and nods through the blossoming bustle, as she always does.
Except for the split second. Except when she thinks no one's watching, and her face falls. Usually crinkled with laughter, her clear blue eyes flit to the corner of the room.
Conspicuous only by the absence of its constant occupant. In his place, rests a small suitcase, packed painstakingly, her gnarled hands worrying over his favorite tie, a creased photo, tokens to keep him company in the coffin - more a comfort to the living than to the dead.
Snippets of hushed chatter fly around in Mandarin. I catch one: the last conversation my Grandpa shared with my Grandma, a night or two before he passed.
"I think, now, I'm just waiting to die."
"But, without you, for what will I have to live?"
I pause as I walk into the kitchen to rinse off a plate at the sink, the precarious stacks of bulk Pepsi packs lining the walls of the pantry, patiently waiting.