Life and Death | Teen Ink

Life and Death

November 25, 2007
By Wyatt Renner, Tiburon, CA

When I was little it was impossible for me to understand what life meant or what life was. Of course I knew that nobody lived forever but still, I always believed that everybody in my family would always be there. I knew that life ended for everybody but I never expected it to be anybody I knew. How could somebody I knew be here one day and then be gone the next day. To me it seemed impossible and so I went on thinking that my whole family and all of my friends would live forever.

My Grandparents lived very close to me and I had a special bond with my Grandparents unlike many of my friends because I spent so much time with them. Sometimes on the weekends if I was bored and my friends weren’t home I would go up to my Grandparents house so I could play games with them. My grandpa was almost like my second father. He didn’t like the name Grandpa so I always called him Kirk. I spent a lot of time with Kirk when I was a kid. I remember countless hours of chess matches and liars dice games. Every Thursday after school I would go to my Grandparents house instead of mine. Kirk helped me with my homework and my Grandma would spend the afternoon making macaroni from scratch because she knew it was my favorite. I remember working on math homework with Kirk and being astonished at all of the complex problems he could do in his head. One night I had a calculator packet to do. It had many complex problems on it that were meant to be done with a calculator. Half way through the packet I realized that Kirk was figuring out all of the problems in his head faster then I could on a calculator. After that night I thought that he was the smartest man in the world.

I saw my grandpa as sort of a superman. He was incredibly smart and he was amazing at Chess. I didn’t realize it at the time but everything we did together was either making me smarter or teaching me morals. I remember one time when we sat down for a chess match I asked him to go easy on me.
He replied, “If I go easy on you and you win will you be happy”

I thought about it and realized that if he didn’t try to win and I beat him then I wouldn’t really have won. I would have won because he let me win and I would not get any satisfaction from that. I guess that was why I loved being around my Grandpa so much. Everybody else treated me like the 10 year old that I was, but Kirk treated me like an adult.

Then one day my Mom told me that we needed to talk. Kirk had passed away while he was on a trip with my Grandma in Colorado. At first I couldn’t believe it. My Grandpa the superman was gone. It couldn’t be. People I knew didn’t pass away, everybody I knew was supposed to live forever. I still didn’t believe it the next morning. We went up to my grandmas house to be with her and when we got there, I remember walking straight to Kirks office. Kirk was always in his office, why couldn’t he be there now? I checked in his bedroom and the studio, but he wasn’t there. I couldn’t believe that he was gone, it couldn’t be true. Then I saw our chessboard. There was a game set up on the board already. It was our unfinished game. I sat in my chair and realized at that moment that it would remain unfinished because one player was gone. I remember sitting in my chair for the next hour or two crying. He was truly gone. My Grandpa: the smartest man in the World, was gone. That was when I realized that there was no such thing as life without death. Death was unavoidable even for my immediate family, and not even me. Throughout my whole life I thought that I would always be around but now I knew that even though I was only 10 right now I was not going to be here forever like I had previously thought.

From then on I knew that all of my friends, and also my family, were all going to die. I realized that death was an unavoidable part of life. After Kirk passed away I changed. I was afraid for a while, and I started spending a lot of time thinking. I thought about a lot of things. Why did Kirk have to die? Why did he go now, and why couldn’t he have at least been there for my graduation of middle school. At first I was angry. I was mad at everything because Kirk was gone. Sometimes I was mad that he had to go and other times I wondered why we couldn’t have at least finished our chess match. After time passed I realized that life and death went hand in hand. Instead of wondering why Kirk had to go I started being grateful that I had spent so much time with him. I was grateful for all of the chess matches I had played with him. I stopped thinking about death and started to think about life. Life was what mattered and when life is lived to the fullest then there is no reason for death to bring more sadness then it does happiness for the life the person lived before he died.

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