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Roses Don’t Live Forever

One day, I woke up and looked at my mother’s face. I was confused.  She looked sick to her stomach when she told me, “we have to go to the hospital because grandma is in horrible condition and was diagnosed with cancer.” I was startled because I was still half asleep. The more I sat there and thought about it, I started to have this aching  feeling in my throat as if I was about to cry, but was holding it in.  

I've learned that cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. About 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. But that day, all I remember is the sound of ringing in my ears and my heart pounding. I guess I’d rather hear the beeping then one, long constant beep.

I was upset with myself that I hadn't seen my grandma in six years because I was distant from them on her side of the family. There are about 224,210 new cases of lung cancer each year. Experts say 1116,000  men and 108,210 women get cancer every year, and they estimate 159,210 deaths from lung cancer --  86,930 in men and 72,330 among women. “I never thought something like this would affect my grandma.”  

I got to the hospital and all I remember is shaking, knowing I was going to see other distant members of my family. When I walked into the room, all eyes were on me. I heard my aunt crying and people were coming up to me, giving me hugs, saying I'm the last one she’s been waiting to see. “when i think of my grandma i always remember the smell of her perfume, she always smelled like her favorite perfume N 5 chanel. I also remember her always looking beautiful with the way she would do her makeup.”

The room smelled very heavy and had a weird odor. I sat down next to my grandma and I grabbed her hand and held it. Her hands were cold and weak.  She squeezed my hand, knowing I’m there with her. I started crying because I knew she was in pain. I see tubes coming out of different places in her body. I hear the sound of the beeping from the machines. After being there for five hours with my mom, we decided to leave because it was getting late. I said my goodbyes to my family and whispered in my grandma’s ear: “bye grandma, I love you, I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you, but you mean the world to me.”

We leave the hospital and the whole way home was in silence. I asked my mom if we can come back tomorrow and she said yes, so I was happy. I went to sleep peacefully, knowing I have seen my grandma and that I'm going to see her again. I asked my mom how she was feeling about what was going on and her response was: “I’m feeling sad and surprised because grandma always took good care of herself and I never imagined something like this happening to her. She’s a good woman and she’s going to get through this.”

The next morning, I woke up happy and excited. I  was going to have breakfast  and my mom came to me crying, saying we can't go to the hospital because my grandma passed away three hours after we left. I lost my appetite immediately. My heart dropped and I began to cry rapidly.

That week I was depressed and quiet. I cried myself to sleep for two months, feeling like it was my fault for not being there for her. This was my first time going through anything like this and I took it very hard. This happened when I was twelve and till this day I still have sleeping problems and cry to myself and I'm 16 years old now. I know she’s in a better place but I wish I could have spent more time with her.

On Our Way Home

I wiped my nose and put my hands in my coat pockets. I could feel my fingers slowly freezing to the point that they started to burn. The smell was not so pleasant but I still walked slowly so my mom wouldn’t be walking alone. I took her hand and we made our way through the dark, cold alley.

The snowflakes felt like little ninja knives flying into my face, but I didn’t mind as long as the most important person in my life was by my side. We made our way up the slippery stairs that felt like an ice arena—the only thing missing were ice skates.

My mom slowly started turning the keys, and I could see that she could barely feel her fingers, too. As she opened the door, I felt my face get warmer.

Stomp, stomp, stomp.

We stomped our feet one by one on the carpet so no snow or salt would get on the shiny floor of our new home. I couldn’t believe it, but we’d made it.

As we took off our coats, my mom proudly said, “Welcome to America, kids."


I am intelligent, yet confused
I wonder if imaginary numbers exist
I hear the silence of sound
I want wisdom
I am intelligent, yet confused

I pretend to favor science
I feel my personal legend calling
I touch the soul of the world
I worry I won’t achieve what I was
Bred for
I cry when I don’t understand
I am intelligent, yet confused

I understand how to factor a
I say there is a higher being
I hope to cross any abyss I’m stuck in
I am intelligent, yet confused

My Grandfather’s Name // El nombre de mi abuelo

My secret code name
is Roberto Alemán The First.

It was my grandfather’s name.
He died right before Super Bowl 49.
He was born 1933 and he died at eighty-two years old.
The only time I saw him was when
I was two years old and the rest of the twelve years
was talking to him on a phone.
I was so devastated.
I had plans to go see him now it’s too late for me.
Now I carry his name in honor of my grandfather
hoping that he has a grandson
that’s the brightest and smartest
and knows that I love him.
R.I.P Grandpa Duermate Rilo.
Know that his son was raised by
the great father / grandfather.
A memory is that
I was walking in my grandma’s ranch
my aunts and cousins then grabbed my mamila.
I sat on the steps then all of a sudden
the doors popped open.

I saw my grandfather with a beautiful white horse.

A heavenly man who rests
with god and
will be a bright angel.

Mi nombre secreto
es Roberto Alemán el Primero.

Era el nombre de mi abuelo.
Murió justo antes del Super Bowl 49.
Nació en 1933 y murió a la edad de 82 años.
La única vez que lo vi fue cuando
tenía dos años y los doce años siguientes
hablé con él por teléfono.
Estaba tan devastado
Tenía planes para ir a verlo y ahora es muy tarde para mí.
Ahora llevo su nombre en honor a mi abuelo
con la esperanza de que su nieto
sea el más brillante y el más inteligente
y que sepa que lo quiero.
QEPD Abuelo Duermate Rilo.
Sepa que su hijo fue criado
por mejor padre / abuelo.
Tengo un recuerdo en el que
estaba caminando en el rancho de mi abuela
Mis tías y primos agarraron mi biberón.
Me senté en los escalones, luego de repente
las puertas se abrieron.

Vi a mi abuelo con un hermoso caballo blanco.

Un hombre celestial que descansa
con Dios y
será un ángel brillante.

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And the Rest Is Noise

Interviews & Reflections From The Students Of 826CHI’s 2017 Pitchfork Music Writing Intensive

by the 826CHI Teen Press Corps

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