April 29, 2009
By Anonymous

A rush of cool air struck us peacefully as we entered the hospital on this hot summer day. The electronic doors opened, revealing a lobby that contained an overwhelming smell that lingered in my nose--that of disinfectants and bleach. We accepted our guest stickers and pressed them onto our shirts as we followed my grandfather through the labyrinth-like hallways of the hospital. I kept my eyes at my feet as much as I could, occasionally lifting my chin up to observe my surroundings. I was already shivering from the cold as we finally reached my grandmother’s room. She was sitting up in her bed, pale as a ghost, with several IVs emerging from various parts of her body. As always, she was still smiling. I placed the Scrabble game I was carrying at the foot of her bed, a game that we always played together. My brothers and I conversed lightly with my grandmother as we asked her how she was feeling and enthusiastically told her of all the events we had experienced that summer. Meanwhile, my parents and grandfather apprehensively whispered amongst each other about my grandmother’s latest condition.
An hour later, the nurse kindly excused herself as she slipped in between us to get to granny’s bed side. I watched as she took blood pressure and stabbed my grandmother’s IV tubes with a needle. I began to feel lightheaded so I wandered out into the hallway to take a little walk. My mother followed and suggested we grab some lunch. Once I started feeling better, we took the long hike back up to her room and played our game of Scrabble. It was something that pulled us away from reality for a while, until the faint beeping of her machines unwillingly dragged us back. Granny started feeling sick again and so we decided that it was probably a good time to leave. I lingered in the doorway as I watched my siblings and parents give her a hug and kiss goodbye. I drifted back into the hall, once again unable to see my beloved grandmother in such a condition. My stomach was in my chest; my mouth was dry and my throat sore, as I tried to hold back the tears. I was not ready to say goodbye. As I was standing just a few steps outside of the door, I heard a faint voice say, “Hey, I think I’m missing a hug from someone.” I turned the corner and reentered the room, revealed a crooked smile and apologized. When I reached her bed I leaned over her and felt her arm gently wrap around me. My face lightly brushed against hers, as I deeply inhaled that familiar scent of hers. I remember the minty smell distinctly, from all of the Icy Hot she used on her sore limbs. My lips lightly touched her cheek, her skin still as soft as that of a baby’s bottom. I pulled away, gave her a small smile, and whispered a soft goodbye, as I followed my family out of the hospital into the blazing heat once more. That was the last time that I saw my grandmother.
I slept in as usual that Sunday morning. Still half asleep, I pulled myself out of bed and dragged my feet down the carpeted staircase. My mother had been away for the past few days, yet again, to be with my sick grandmother in Maryland. I squinted at the bright sunlight flooding into the kitchen on this particular December morning. “Dad?” I croaked, wondering if he was awake. I continued on into the computer room in the back corner of the house. I found my dad sitting at the computer, coffee in hand, when I realized he was looking at plane tickets online. I began to ask him who was flying somewhere when he said, “I have some sad news.” My hands flew to my mouth, my stomach dropped, and my heart started racing. I knew what he was about to say and I was prepared to deny that it had happened. He went on to tell me what I had already figured out. “Your grandmother passed away early this morning.” I cringed as he talked and attempted to organize the thoughts that flew through my head. My brothers and I spent that morning flipping through hundreds of pictures that we had collected and reminisced of those days that we spent in the park and our trips to the dollar store with our grandmother. Still in shock, we packed our bags that evening to leave the next day for the funeral.
The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I wore a black polka dotted jacket with black slacks. The church was very small, but quickly filled to capacity with a few familiar faces along with others I did not know. I stood beside my parents and reluctantly shook a few hands, while all I wanted was for it all to be over with. My grandfather was the only one to give a eulogy for my grandmother that day. It was when he finished that the tears started falling fast and hard. With my eyes puffy from crying and my body trembling, I struggled to put one foot in front of the other as I exited my pew and followed her casket down the aisle. My family walked behind me as we stepped back out into the cool December day.
That year had been difficult for my family, especially for my grandfather. I was forced to grow up a lot as a sophomore. As my grandparents lived in Maryland, my mom often flew out there to help in any way she could when my grandmother was in and out of the hospital. I have always been close to my mother and it was not easy for me to come home and realize that she was gone for several days, without a goodbye. I was forced to adjust quickly to a new routine with my dad at work before we left for school and gone until around dinner time. I was in charge of waking my brothers up, making sure they had their lunches and everything else they needed. When we got home from school, I occasionally had to make dinner for everyone if my dad was running late, while still keeping up with my schoolwork. It was difficult for me, and I often got upset when my mom was away too long. However, as I grew up that year, I came to understand her reasons for leaving, and I began to admire her for what she did.
My grandmother was the definition of “grace under suffering.” She was one of my best friends. She would spend hours listening to every detail of my week on the phone, something no one else would ever have the patience to do. Though it was hard for her to walk and a challenge for her to travel, she flew out from Maryland to visit us. She even came to my soccer games in her wheelchair. From my grandmother, I learned about gratitude for life even when life presents incredible challenges. I also learned how to be selfless and compassionate in life. Because of her illness, I was forced to grow up fast and become more independent. Even though my grandmother is no longer with me, I am a better person because of the life lessons and lasting memories that she has given me.

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