I miss the sound of her doorbell, if you could believe it. How when I pushed my finger onto that small white orb it vibrated through my fingertip, almost reaching into my body like an electric shock. It was loud, and the accent fell on the second, deeper note, which incidentally lingered in the air for what felt like hours. Though the same each time, its intensity always jolted through me with surprise. It was always a treat for us, to be chosen to ring that doorbell, to be the one of us to offset that melody. But when you’re young, everything is exciting.
This reverberating start to each visit was followed by a methodical anticipation: hearing her exclamation – usually, “Coming!” – and listening as my grandmother’s footsteps inched closer on the opposite side of the door, louder, until we heard the energetic crack, pop of the locks and the scratchy sound the door made as it swept against the rough carpet. In spite of the friction, she always opened that door with excitement, because on the other side stood her grandchildren.
Eventually her footsteps aged, more time between each step. But for children naïve to reality, this only increased the suspense. Then, the noise of a louder television masked the sounds of her footsteps, overpowering, and a click, roll of a walker was introduced to the cacophony. Sometimes, even, we would have to ring twice, which turned our anticipation into restlessness. The opening of the door began to lack its usual excitement, but rather emphasized resistance, exertion, exhaustion, often with a complimentary groan.
These days, there is no doorbell. There is no anticipation – on either end of the door – for I open the door myself as my grandmother sits idly in her chair, emotionally exhausted. No reverberating melody, no vibrating fingertips, just that harsh snap of the locks – like breaking bones – and an exhausted thrust of the door – a result of shoddy measurements, I bet. While that door once swung open with joy, I now swing it open with grief, out of fear – not excitement – at what I’ll find on the other side of that door.