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“We Had a Good Run” This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      Hospitals are where lives are saved, where people who thought that all was lost renew their hope. It doesn’t seem very hopeful when I go, though. Everyone who works there walks around like they needed to be at their destination five minutes ago. The air is palpable with fear and dread. I glance into rooms as we walk down the hallway and the patients all have a lost, desperate look. Relatives who visit have the worried look of those whose loved one is ill enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.

Hospitals are always so clean. It’s a dead giveaway that something is not right. As we walk, I can’t stop thinking that people have died here. How can everyone act so normal when they are as aware of the fact as I? Up the elevator, through a stairwell shortcut, and we emerge into another hallway that looks exactly like every other hallway there, but I know that this is the hallway. When I look up, we are in a barren room and my grandmother is lying on the bed.

Everyone is uncomfortable about visiting in a hospital so we make small talk because we are afraid to say anything serious. The room is filled with uncomfortable silence just as often as it is with voices. Her voice is raspy from the oxygen they are giving her and her eyes are unfocused - for a second I think she looks like an old soothsayer from a Greek myth. My grandma hears things but doesn’t process them very quickly. I look at my dad and can see that it hurts him to see his mother like this, and I can tell he wants to leave.

A squeaking sound from the hall announces the nurse pushing a small cart with all sorts of medical gear. Bottles of medication are perched near the edge, gauze and bandages abound. The cart is like some medieval torture rack, all sharp edges and pointy ends, the nurse ready to interrogate her “patients.” There is even a syringe. For a second I am reminded of every child’s fear of doctors and the needles they stick in your arm. They assure you that the liquids in the vials are important and could save your life but, just for a second, your juvenile brain has an overwhelming fear that perhaps this sadistic person just enjoys sticking needles in kids.

In an hour we stand to leave. I feel the need to get out of the hospital, and can see the others are ready, too. As I lean in to give Grandma a hug, she says something so softly it’s almost a whisper. We haven’t had much of a chance to talk today with everyone clamoring for her attention and what she says sticks with me. The rest of the day, I think about it. And the next. And the next. She tells me, “We had a good run together, you and I.”

When some people stay with their grandparents, they are bored and sad. That was never the case at my grandma’s. She took us to Toys “R” Us almost every day, and the mall when we got older. Once, when I was five, my grandma bought me an M&M container filled to the brim but as we left the store, I dropped it in a multi-colored shower of candy. Before I could even think about crying, my grandma whisked me back inside for another.

My grandma never forgot a birthday or Jewish holiday even though she wasn’t Jewish. For our birthday, we could always expect a package in the mail containing exactly what we had asked for.

Leaving the hospital is a blur as I ruminate on what she told me. Once outside, we decide to have lunch, just my mother, father, sister, and me. We go to Fuddrucker’s, order our hamburgers, and sit. The burger is really good, and I eat as much as I can, but I find that I don’t really have an appetite. I take my sister to look at the arcade games and as we are coming back, I have to stop. Turning the corner, I can see my mom and dad sitting and talking. Not fighting, not shouting, not divorcing, just talking about old friends and what happened to them. This is a scene I dreamed of a lot as a little kid, having my parents together. For a second I look at the scene with an outsider’s eyes and realize that if nothing else was accomplished today, at least my parents came a little closer.

My grandma doesn’t want treatment. She doesn’t want chemotherapy. Skipping paperwork and conventional procedures, she does whatever it takes to get out of the hospital as quickly as possible. It isn’t long before she is back though, this time for the last time.

It takes me almost four days to come to terms with what my grandma told me. It was when I finally realized that she was happy with her life. She has seen her children grow up, have children of their own who have also grown up; she has even seen her grandchildren have children. If this were to be her last week, she would be pleased, she would feel fulfilled. What more can one ask than to feel happy and know they have led a fulfilling life when they die? Instead of feeling sorry for myself when it happens, I should know that she was happy. The revelation already makes me feel better.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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