If I Die Now, I Die Happy

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For 16 years of my life, she had lived across the street from my house; I even had my own bedroom with all my toys there. I grew up in that house, sleeping over during the weekends when my parents had to work, or walking over there to get milk or eggs when we ran out at my home. I watched my grandmother age just as she watched me grow up. I always thought she would be there for me until I got my first car, until I married, or until I got my first child so that she could take care of him or her, just as she cared for me as a child. Life comes and goes as it pleases, so when people say, “Live life”, live it because life is too short to be living with regrets. In enduring this chapter of my life, I learned to make the most of the little things we tend to overlook, I came to realize that the most important thing is putting the ones you love before your own self, and I developed a positive outlook on life itself.

It was the week of Chinese New Year, and it was the first time that I had to celebrate it in the hospital. We had brought my grandmother a red envelope and New Year’s rice cakes. She gladly accepted them and ate the food hungrily; she wasn’t extremely fond of hospital food because she gave me her steak and mashed potatoes. I sat in the corner and watched her eat; she was sitting upright on the bed attached with tubes hooking from the machines through one arm to another leg, laughing joyfully and mingling with everyone. I thought to myself that maybe she’d be able to come home and celebrate Chinese New Year with her eight grandchildren next year. I heard her say to one of her friends, “That’s my favorite granddaughter over there. She’s tall, isn’t she?” “She takes very good care of me. I know for a fact that my love for her was very worth it.” She had jokingly said to me and to her friend, “If I die now, I die happy.” I knew that time was running out, so I put my heart and energy to laughing and talking to her, spending and enjoying the little moments we had left together.

It had been a week since I last saw my grandmother. I woke up to my mom walking into my room that morning with tears streaming down her face. She was choking on her words saying, “They said it was dangerous…dangerous…the doctors said that she was in a critical phase and that this operation might be a 50% chance…it’s dangerous”. Because I didn't have school that day, my mother asked whether or not I wanted to come. When I opened my mouth, the words that came out suprised me. I told her no. My heart wanted to go visit her, but my mind was scared. I was scared of watching my grandmother leave before my eyes, making that the last image I had of her. I wanted to keep her smiling face in my memory of the day we celebrated New Years together.

That night, I went to visit her at the hospital. I remember walking through the empty long, hallways, going up the elevators, through the doors of ICU to her room, expecting a warm welcome. The moment I saw her, I had burst into tears; the sight of her was frightful. She was asleep, shivering now and then, breathing very heavily, and attached to so many tubes and pumps that you didn’t know where it began or where it ended. All you could hear in that small room were the rhythmic beeping patterns of the machines, her heavy wheezing, and the sobbing of my mother and sister. I couldn’t bear to stay in that room so I walked out; I walked out praying that she’d be taken away safely and peacefully. Most people would pray for a miracle, for their loved ones to be healed, but I couldn’t tolerate watching my grandmother go through the medications, procedures, or hospital checkups anymore. I wanted her to be free. I didn’t want what was best for me; I loved her enough to let her go.

The day that my mother said those two words, felt like a thousand needles stabbing into my heart. She picked me up from school and right when I got in, she said to me, “She’s gone”. I sat there frozen and dumbstruck, putting the words slowly together like a puzzle. We drove straight to the hospital where everyone had gathered for a small ceremony. My grandmother was Buddhist, so there was a Buddhist monk who came in to say some prayers and blessings. Looking over the heads of all the visitors, I saw my grandmother rest in eternal peace; she laid still and not a single breathe could be heard. The thoughts in my brain were swirling out of control, and the emotions that I felt ran through me like tornados and waves crashing at once. My heart felt like it shattered into a million pieces. I felt remorse, regret, happiness, thankfulness, sadness, relief, confusion, disbelief, exhaustion, and everything else. I sat there in the middle of the room crying like a 5-year old, listening to the rhythmic hums of the Buddhist monk for 3 hours. My mother whispered to me, “Don’t cry. They say that her soul can still hear you, and if she hears you crying, her soul will feel reluctant to leave the body”.

My grandmother had put up with her cancer for more than two years. She came back and forth from the hospital so many times that everyone already knew her. There were so many things left unsaid and left undone, that I will never get the chance to do. I feel very lucky to have known my grandmother. I’ve come to accept the fact that she’s gone, even though it feels as if her existence is still with me, thinking that she’s still living in that house across the street. I definitely do not feel regret that she has left us because I know that she died happily. Thanks to her, I’ve grown to appreciate the little things in life, to know what it’s like to put those you love before you, and to look at life with a meaningful understanding. I know for a fact that my love for her did not go to waste either.

She passed away on February 10; it was only four days before Valentine's Day. If only she had endured just four more days and only four more days, I would have been able to give her my painting and card; I spent a week making and perfecting it, hoping to give it to her on Valentine’s Day. I wanted to say those three words that I felt embarrassed to say to her when I was a kid; they were the three words that made me feel good about myself when she use to say it to me. I wanted to say, “I love you”.





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iloveyoumom said...
Jan. 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm
this is good stuff.
 
DannyyK said...
Jan. 29, 2010 at 12:14 am
This made me cry. (:
 
princess0087 said...
Dec. 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm
This was beautiful.
I'm sorry for your loss.
 
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