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Every holiday or just for no reason at all, I would always visit my grandma and Poppy. My Poppy (grandpa), would always play the guitars, he had a special connection with guitars. So when we were little he would always play a guitar and sing a song until we fell asleep. He had the sweetest touch to his voice and we would all love to hear it. He had numerous dogs that liked to sing along with him when he sings or plays the guitar or the harmonica.
I can always hear the sweet sound of his voice and the way his fingers strummed away at his beautiful cherry redwood acoustic guitar. I would sit in front of him and be amazed at how he would make such wondrous sounds with his voice and his guitar. He wasn’t all about music, he also had fun sleeping with us outside with no tent, just the moon and the stars to watch us. We would camp in the front yard because they lived in the middle in the woods, unassuming what could happen... I miss those days.
My poppy was a fighting soldier in Vietnam and he had caught something that was released into the air... Agent Orange. It is a chemical that was released from planes and helicopters. He was diagnosed with diabetes a while after. The poisons in his body were just to harsh for him to handle. So he ended up in the hospital. I would always think and hope that he would get better and my mom would always tell me he would be okay but it wasn’t that long ago so I knew what was going on. However I think the saddest thing was that I wasn’t allowed to see him while he was in the hospital. So at that point it was kind of hard not to think about it because my mom was never home, she was always at the hospital. I would ask her all the time about how he was doing and she always gave me the same answers every time. It was either he’ll be fine which didn’t answer my question at all, or, it would be silence, and I was desperate for an answer.
Not to long after my Poppy got sick, my moms boyfriends’ mom Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was hard but it was cured. Then something worse came, she had full out cancer, every where in her body. So now I had to things on my mind. I was able to visit Karen but I still wasn’t allowed to visit my poppy and I didn’t understand why. I felt ignorant and lost, it would make more since if my mom would just give me an answer.
Now I had so much going on it was making my head spin. I was sobbing because I wasn’t allowed to see my poppy and I was sobbing because I knew that the end wasn’t good for Karen. Every night I would visit Karen and I would wait for her to get better but that didn’t work. She ended up getting so sick that they couldn’t do anything for her and she knew it too. So then eventually was moved to the sunset house and that is the place where the people go when they know they are going to die.
So while that was happening my poppy was slowly dying, and of course I wasn’t told this but I knew it, since I had such a special connection with him, I could picture the hospital in my head. I see myself walking down the cold sick hallways of my envisioned hospital. I picture my self walking into his room seeing him hooked up to the machines which was probably how it really was and I didn’t want it to be so I slowly closed my eyes as I let the tears roll down my face.
And the same for Karen, you could see how weak she was and I couldn’t stand to see it so, I came less frequently and then I didn’t go at all. So I said my goodbyes and I never went back t the sunset house. As much as I wanted to I couldn’t see her fail. So then I stopped envisioning my little imaginary hospital and then and there at that time, he died. I never got to say goodbye or see him, for the whole year he was sick I had no trace of him. I know he remembered how much he loved me because my mom told me all about what he said before he died, kind of like he knew his time was coming. But there were three upsides to this. 1 I knew he loved me, 2 he wasn’t suffering any more and 3.
My grandma would sleep with him at night and they would need a blanket, so my mom got one out of her car that was my favorite tie-dye blanket and used it. So yes number 3 is that he was cremated with it, so that I will always be a part of him and so that he will never get cold, in case if the stars are working to late one night, he will always have part of me to keep him warm. He was gone but yet still here and now , I am thinking about Karen. It has probably been two or three days since I have seen her and I missed her. The way she could push through pain just to hug me so I had to do something. I bought her a little rock that had and angel on it and on the back it said strength, which was exactly what she was. She got better but then worse again and since she got worse, my mom and mike (Karen’s son, my mom’s boyfriend), started sleeping there and took time off of work.
They slept there every night except for one, it was a school day and my mom and mike were both home and that made me a little hesitant to go to school because I wanted to make sure everything was okay. I knew it wasn’t. My mom came downstairs quietly trying not to wake mike, and she told me the bad news… “She loved you guys so much” was all she said as she cried and we cried, because she knew that we were smart enough to figure it out. She said ( in a way), that Karen was thankful for the loyalty that we gave her, to come and visit her, she knew that we cared.
The next few weeks were hard to get over and we all would have to do the best we could. Knowing about all the crying I did, I felt a little infantile. Not because I cried about family members dying, but because I cried when I was tired. It also made me feel self absorbed because there were other people that had gone through a lot more than me. Such as mike, Karen was his mom. Also my mom, Poppy was her step dad and that means that they were even closer than I am to them and I cant imagine what it was like for them no matter how close I was to them or how much I loved them. It was crucial for me to know they were gone but for me to know that I can’t hug them or kiss them again.
I will never forget them and I still think about them every day. If its me writing about hem or if its me dreaming about them. They are always there. In my mind, I don’t know they are just, with me. So really, you don’t realize how much you love something until it’s gone. Then… you really want it.