When you finally feel like you have life under control, something comes and knocks you right off of your feet to remind you of how unpredictable life can be. My heart had already sensed that a tragedy was going to strike, but I knew that I could not change it so I tried to brace for it. You cannot brace for death, no matter how many times you tell your self that death can be easier than life because your family member does not have to suffer anymore.
Last Wednesday morning was a complete whirlwind. I received a call from my aunt that my grandfather had suddenly become ill. Although they had not pronounced him dead, I knew in my heart that his battle on this side was finally over. I began to cry and try to figure out how I was going to get home on such short notice and then the second call came, informing me that my grandfather had a massive stroke and that he was not going to recover from this one.
In those last few minutes of his life, my family rushed to get everyone together to say their last goodbyes. I sat at my desk and tried to be apart of that moment through the phone as my family gathered at his hospital bed. I got a short glimpse at him and said goodbye and I love you through blinding tears. Within minutes he released his last breath and his soul was set free to the other side.
Then the tears began to flow even more. The wails of grief rang through my silent house. I began to contact my other family to inform them of my grandfather’s sudden departure. And the stages of grief immediately set in. DENIAL.
This could not be real. This could not be happening. This could not be happening right now. Not during my bar prep. Not when I didn’t have a plan to get home. Not while our family was already dealing with so much else. Not right now. Not today.
As the hours passed and I decided that I could wait no more, I jumped in my car, prayed and set forth on my journey home. I arrived into a whirlwind of emotions. Everyone was dealing with this sudden lost of our patriarch in their own way. The next few days was a roller coaster of moments. Some preparing for my Papa’s farewell, while others were full of tension and distress.
I remained emotionally stable for the most part but all my built up strength crumbled onto the notes of Safe in His Arms in the service that paid homage to his life. The reality set in that my grandfather was gone forever. I could no longer call him and ask for advice about my car, talk about current events or update him on Baby Adam’s new achievement. I never got a chance to repay him for his many sacrifices and self-less acts that made me the woman I am today. He always believed in me and my dreams. He never wavered in his love for any of us. He had a heart full of unconditional love spread evenly across each child, grandchild and great-grandchild. He did everything he wanted to do, which was to simply care for us and give us better opportunities.
As I stroll through the last four stages of grief, staggering back and forth between depression and acceptance, I am comforted by the words No More Obligations. These words were shared a few months ago at a memorial service for a professor who had passed away. His friend shared these words of comfort with us and they never left my soul. So I embrace the fact that my grandfather has No More Obligations. No more appointments, no more medications, no more leg braces and wheel chairs. No more dependence, no more restrictions, no more stress or strains.
As I deal with this loss and the minor set back in my study schedule, I am comforted in knowing that God has placed another guardian angel in my corner to guide me along the way. Grandparents are special people. Grandparents are even more special when they step into the shoes of your parents. And for that, I am grateful.
Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.