How does a free spirit die?

As of lately, my train of thought has been operating through blizzards of nostalgia. I am drained by their thwacks--not because I miss the generosities of my innocence, but because I pine for the days my favorite person was thriving instead of dispersing.

I’ve been feeling submerged in the graciousness of my youth; it has morphed into a fatal addiction to a lifestyle more free-hearted and unafraid of my own mortality.

My grandma flourishes in my memory and I accredit her for inspiring the mystical life I continue to grow further infatuated with.

Growing up, she prioritized my happiness and placed me on a pedestal probably too high for any human being.

She taught me how to lead an existence soaked in sunlight, gravitated toward spontaneity and inclined to love irrationally.

Although I am selfish and absorbed in the clouds of my own wants and daydreams, she saw through the exterior of a clueless shell with perpetual baby fat.

In her vision, she didn’t see a girl who neglected saying goodbye to her great-grandpa while he called for her from the plaid blankets of his death bed--simply because the concept of dying made her uncomfortable and she longed to deny its existence.

Instead, she saw a beautiful child lying on their belly over her mossy patio, snuggled against a grinning labradoodle and searching for frogs beneath the bushes. She saw a creature of copious enchantment, curiosity and a head glimmering with dreams.

On the patio, she taught me to read paperback novels and drink lemonade. She emphasized the importance of living a vibrant life, full of last-minute adventures to national parks and untouched waterfalls.

My nana is like a vintage postcard to Yosemite National Park, inspiring its handlers to play their vinyl Joan Baez and Carole King records, indulge in the works of counterculture poets and pack for their impromptu trip to the Rocky Mountains.

When I was a senior in high school, we hiked the Appalachian Trail together and she told me stories of following a psychedelic jam band across the United States and getting a concussion after going too hard at an Alice Cooper concert.

Defeating stage IV lung cancer, miraculously surviving an overgrown chest infection and having the veins behind her eyes swell to the point of blindness has illustrated one of the biggest devastations to be faced by a free spirit.

What once was luscious forests and Santana concerts have become a dark room, made gloomier by fumes of cigarettes prohibited by doctors.

Her body sits on a couch like crumpled tissue and blackness floods her mind, offering the means to ignore a phone that never rings and a Netflix television series she’s been trapped watching for the past week.

Such sadness brings me back to the little girl in the swimming pool, whose younger brother just said their dying great-grandpa wants to see her.

She dives back under the water because the only thing worse than acknowledging the concept of death is watching beautiful creatures stuck in its cruel transition.