You Never Miss Someone Until They're Gone

January 18, 2008
By Holly Johnson, Culver, IN

As a thirteen year old kid, nothing in the grown-up world seems to matter yet. Family get together or sleepover at your friends seems like an easy choice. Obviously you would put your friends first. Just like I did. I remember my mom getting that call from my grandma. It I had been through some pretty bad times, but this was, by far, the worst. All those things you wish you would’ve said or would’ve done; now it’s too late.
My great grandma had been really sick, and had been getting worse for the last year. When you are young, you have a different perspective of the world. So when this happened, I didn’t think too much of it, figuring she’d be around forever. Or close enough. How wrong could I be? When my grandma was no longer able to take care of her, she had been put in a nursing home, where she couldn’t do much of anything. My grandma, my mom, my aunt, and my uncle had visited her often enough, but I was always too timid to go. Even when we all knew that it was towards the end, I still was afraid to go. For two reasons, one, it didn’t seem like it was that important at the time, and two, I didn’t want to be around someone dieing.
Priorities are essential, even at a young age. I was never all that close with my great grandma, especially once she started to show signs of Alzheimer’s. That had been going on a few years, since I was six or seven. I grew up with her like that, so I just thought that was how she was. I didn’t understand any of it, I was too young then. Though I knew she had always cared, that didn’t seem to matter. I don’t know if I just couldn’t comprehend most of it, or if I had subconsciously told myself not to. Either way, same result.
When we had all gone to the nursing home for the last time, going near her was out of the question for me. The entire situation was so awkward, and I didn’t know what to do anyway. I knew more of what was going on then, and though I really wanted to do something about it, I couldn’t. It was too late. Nothing could change anything, just as I could do nothing to improve upon the situation. I wanted to be able to tell her how much I loved her, how much she meant to me, all the things I didn’t get to say, but I couldn’t. Two reasons. For one, I couldn’t bring myself to do or say anything. And two, she wouldn’t have understood me anyway, let alone take it seriously. Even at her funeral, I was so shocked at everything that I couldn’t say anything; too nervous that I couldn’t do anything. I still didn’t know what to do, and was afraid of what was going to happen.
After that call, I spent a lot of time crying and wondering what I should’ve done different. I had felt so bad that we weren’t on the greatest terms. I wished that I could’ve said some things I didn’t, maybe helped out some more, just had my priorities more in line so that I could’ve been there more. I realize I was relatively young, and there wasn’t too much I could do, but that didn’t stop me from feeling horrible. I wished so much had been different. I wished I could’ve told her that I loved her at least one more time. Wished I could’ve been there for them when they really needed it. Wished I knew better at the time.
Though nothing can change how I handled that, I can learn from it. You learn from experience, right? I learned that family is important, and should be one of my top priorities. You never know when something might happen. How horrible would it be if something was to happen and all you could do was wish you hadn’t said something the night before. After experiencing that, I have changed a lot, and grown from it. I still miss her everyday; still think about her all the time. She will never get to know who I am now, but I wish she could know how greatly she really did impact me.

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