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It was a cold, December morning that needed a jacket to cope with the bitter weather; surprisingly cold for California. There was a light frost on the grass, twinkling through the morning sun. A soft hum from the roads as the cars passed by our street and whiffs of clouds in the sky. As a five-year-old, not much conflict goes through my life, nor will it for quite some time. I lived at home with my family which consisted of my brother, sister, mom and dad. Ethan, my brother was a much bigger guy than me, four years older, he had short black hair and a contagious smile. Ally, my sister was about my size even though she is two years older than me. She had brown-blackish hair that streamed down to a bit past her shoulders. Then there was my father, a fair sized man with quiffed black hair. Finally, my mother, long brown hair and a nice smile. We all had a strong bond with each other, and that included my grandparents. My grandfather had circle shaped glasses and a low voice, he always wore the brand Polo and was happy. All of our lives drastically changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. He had angiosarcoma, which is a very rare cancer. It affected the inner lining of blood vessels, there was no cure for it and was terminal. I didn't know just how awful and deadly cancer was.
After my short hours of kindergarten, my grandma had picked me up and taken me to my grandparents home. It was around afternoon and I came home from watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas and eating sweet foods at school as a celebration. When I arrived at the house, I noticed my grandfather wasn’t there lying on his bed.
“Where is Grandpa? Is he okay?” I asked my grandma.
“He is…. Fine.” my grandma replied.
My head grew hot and my palms started to heat up and sweat.
“But where is he?”
“In the hospital,” my grandma said in a very broken tone. I was very confused but left my mind off of it, it was on something else. Winter break started and I was bouncing off the walls for Christmas, New Years, and no school. What do I want for Christmas? Hmm, how about a remote-controlled helicopter? Or a new LEGO set?
The days flew by like clouds in the sky. Sometimes they were long and lingering, and at other times, they just whizzed by. The day was December 25th, Christmas. I snuck into my sibling's rooms and woke them up. We all crept into my parents' room in unison, they were still asleep. I sat on my dad to try and wake him up.
“Dad! Mom! It's Christmas wake up we wanna open up presents,” I cheered.
“It's 8:30, how about we wait until 9,” my mother replied in a huff.
“Noooo, now please!” we all pleaded.
“No, wait until 9 or else you are not opening them at all.” My dad informed us in a sharp tone. Soon, we got to open our presents, I got the helicopter I wanted and a LEGO set. Of course, as always, my mom had us children take a ton of photos or else she got really mad. That dinner, my grandfather got to make it home from the hospital. He was confined to a cane but it had four legs instead. During the dinner, we all laughed and enjoyed ourselves, the mood was light and halos for the time being.
A few days later, it was New Year's Eve, most people find this time of the year fun and exciting. My family, however, was scared, anxious and sad. Once again, my grandpa was hospitalized.
“Hello?” my mom said answering her ringing phone. I saw her look at the ground and exhaled. “Okay, we’ll be right there.”
“What happened?” my dad asked staring up from the television.
“We got to go to the hospital again,” mom replied.
“Okay, let’s go,” Dad replied. He grabbed the car keys and ran out the door, my mother was already there. I heard the car start up and then race down the road.
My brother, sister, and I all suspected and knew something would happen. We sat on the couch, playing with our new toys and still had the television on. I flew my helicopter around the house, soon it ran out of battery and I had to recharge it. After a while, I saw my parents come home from the hospital, I could tell that their eyes were red and raw. We stopped what we were doing and just paused.
“Guys, I'm afraid….. that grandpa passed away. He was in so much pain and he didn't want to live through it,” my mother told us, explaining what had happened.
“He what?” The thought of my beloved grandpa passing away slowly grew heavier; like a stone dropped from a high altitude. Slowly picking up speed, as it grew faster and heavier, then finally reaches the ground. Tears welled in my eyes and streamed down my cheeks. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye!”
“I know Leo, I know,” said my mom with a torn voice as she held me tight in her arms and caressed her hand up and down my back to soothe me. “I know.”
“How? Why?” I wailed.
“Oh, Leo. Grandpa was very sick for a long time. There was nothing we could do!” my mom whispered, holding me tighter. My sister and brother started to break down in tears, my dad was holding them tight. This was the first time I saw tears in my dad’s eyes. My hero, my role model, my father was torn. The world felt like it was shaking.
How could this be happening? Why does he have to pass now? We were going to do so much more together! My conscious felt as if it was shattered in pieces like a vase. My heart sunk like an anchor, slowly slithering down into the oceanic abyss; there it stayed. The sound of wails and cries echoed throughout the room. My sister buried her head into my father’s arms and my brother clung close to him. We all were in a deformed huddle and held each other close and tight. I could see my mother break down in tears holding my sister and me, we all felt as if a part of our lives has been cut out and set right in front of our eyes. We looked back at all the great memories we had with him, one-on-one, and as a whole family.
The date was December 30, 2009, and my grandfather was gone forever. The day went on, as slow as ever. We didn’t watch the New Year celebration in New York on TV, nor did we have any fun at all.
“Happy New Years,” I said in a scratchy and low voice to my family, slowly walking to my room.
“Yeah, Happy New Years,” my mom replied walking to her room. We all were going to go to sleep when I see my sister dart to their room. I followed her, then my brother. Ally was in between my mom and dad in their bed then I joined. My brother sat on the foot of the bed and soon shifted his body so that he was closer to us. I could hear my mom whimpering and tearing up again. This startled each and every one of us, we never hear mom cry like that. Soon she stopped and my sister fell asleep, then the rest of the family. I stared at the ceiling thinking.
In a few years, this will turn out fine and right, it always does. I just have to wait. Oh, why can’t this just be over?