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One Less Hero This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Grandpa, remember the candy in thecupboard?" I asked.

"Of course, I remember. You wouldalways hint about getting some as if you were being sneaky," hereplied.

"Do you guys remember the parade we were in whenGrandpa drove us through town on the lawn mower in a clown outfit?"added my cousin.

All my relatives got together for the last daysof my grandpa's life. He had been fighting cancer for quite awhile, andit was clear the cancer was winning. We all gathered to enjoy our lastmoments with him. We were pretty crowded in that living room, but itdidn't seem to bother anyone. We went around the room thinking of oldtimes, some good and some not, but they all reflected life with mygrandpa.

I was very close to my grandpa growing up, and alwayslooked forward to staying with him.

I remember riding thetractor with him and helping with the animals. I was always by hisside.

At supper time, I took Grandpa aside and told him how muchI was going to miss him and how much I love being with him. Tearsfilling his bright blue, sparkly eyes, he bent over and gave me a hug ashe whispered, "I love you, too."

As we sat there, justthe two of us, we shared our innermost thoughts. He told me how scaredhe was leaving everyone, which caught my attention because I had neverheard him say anything like that before. He always seemed a tough guywho wasn't afraid of anything. We sat in silence, trying to read eachother's minds as tears ran down my face. My aunt entered, reluctant tointerrupt, and asked if we were going to eat. When she left, we stood upand I wiped my face. I was so glad the silence wasbroken.

"Well, we better go eat. They're waiting forus," he said.

"Yeah, I guess so. You go on ahead, I'mnot hungry."

As soon as he left, I walked down the long pathto the pond. As I walked, memories played in my mind. When I reached thepond, I sat on the end of the wooden diving board my grandpa had made. Itried to envision life without my best friend, but I couldn't. Icouldn't understand how my family could eat and act as if everything wasgoing great when my grandpa had only a few days.

I don't know howlong I was out there staring into the sky and wondering why this had tohappen so soon. I was only a little kid. My cousin came and sat by me.We looked out into the gleaming water, the moon reflecting on it."What are you doing out here?" he asked.

"Justthinking about things, that's all."

"You know, I heardlife is like a puzzle, and sometimes the pieces don't fit, but you haveto go on and find another piece until you find the right one or else youjust have to work around it," he offered.

"I know itseems like I am acting like a baby, but I just don't know how to handleit," I replied.

"Sometimes, you just have to enjoy thelast moments instead of trying to make sense of everything when it allis just a fact of life. Don't you want your last moments with him to begood ones?"

I thought about that for aminute.

"I guess you're right. Sitting here isn't going toget me anywhere."

We walked back to the house and startedsharing funny moments with Grandpa. I hadn't laughed for awhile and itfelt nice. I began to feel a little hungry.

Back at the houseeveryone was playing games and snacking on chips, cake and cookies. Idecided to have a little fun, so I joined in.

We spent the nextfew days swimming, fishing, four-wheeling and horseback riding. The lastnight we all spent at the pond. We gathered our sleeping bags andpillows and stayed up really late roasting marshmallows and playinggames. Everyone was enjoying their last night with Grandpa, but theydidn't know it.

The next day, Grandpa lay very ill in bed. Hewouldn't eat or drink anything no matter how we tried. People took turnsgoing into the room saying final words. I have never seen so many gloomyfaces.

I was the last to go in. He told me he was happy to see mechange and have fun. I sat there staring at him; he looked so small andhelpless. I could tell from the way he was talking that he was on hislast breaths. I told him someone once told me that life is like a puzzleand sometimes the pieces don't fit, but you have to goon.

"That is very true," he said.

"I willnever forget you as long as I live," I whispered. I bent down andtook his hand and told him how much I loved him. He said the same as hetook his last breath. I just sat there holding his hand. I don't knowhow long I was there, but it didn't seem long enough. I began to knowwhat life is like with one less hero.




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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