A Painful Loss

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A Painful Loss

The night was awfully quiet. Everyone in the house had gone to sleep early. It was about 11 o’clock when I decided to finally take a siesta myself. Several nights before the night of October 17, 2008, I had gone to bed with one person in mind, my grandfather. I would lie in bed crying myself to sleep, knowing that he was in pain and that little by little he was leaving us due to cancer. Each night I would think about how life would be if he was absent, even though it wasn’t what I wanted, it always crossed my mind.

I thought God would be ashamed of me for the constant thoughts of my grandfather dying. I know it’s the circle of life: being born, going through life, and then dying. However, I could not stop thinking that the idea coming to me about my grandfather dying was a sin. At church I learned that wishing someone’s death is not within the infinite love God had for each of us and those thoughts would put us one step further from him. I was not wishing for my grandfather’s death, all I wanted was his well being. The problem was he was not well in this life any longer; he wasn’t himself, which is why I came to the conclusion that he would only be better in the after life.

I had no doubt my grandfather would go to heaven. I grew up in a very religious family and we all believed my grandfather was a great man, he had been all his life, therefore, he would be repaid by the all mighty. “NO! Get that out of your head,” I would say to myself continually. I did not want him gone, I needed him. I knew I would need him to hug me whenever my world seemed lost. I wanted to still be able to wrap my arms around his body with his belly making it hard to touch my hands behind his back. The smell of his cologne had an incredibly beautiful and peaceful smell, one that I would miss. With or without cologne, the smell was present at all times. It was something only he possessed.

He wasn’t the kind of person that liked to be sitting for too long. He would get annoyed and started pacing back and forth. I enjoyed watching him, as much as he did doing it. Going around the kitchen, to the living room, to his room and then down the stairs; this was the pattern of his everyday walks. Other days he would go outside depending on the weather. The thing about him which I admired so dearly was the smile on his face that never came off. No matter how bad situations would get or how bad his health was, he was always smiling. I remember how he would tease me for my height. He was a short man, yet he still found the pride to mock me about it. He made me feel proud about things as little as my height and skin color, to bigger things such as my background, culture, and religion. He just made me feel proud of who I am.

That night, however, my life took such a drastic change. In my sleep I heard voices; I heard cries of pain. I was asleep, at the same time it felt like I was awake, but it all felt like a dream. Hearing the cries gave me a mental image, one in where my grandfather was missing. “He’s gone,” I said to myself. His death was something terrifying to me. I believed it was all in my mind because I had not been able to stop thinking about it. I tried going back to sleep, maybe if I slept and then woke up in the morning, I would realize that none of it was real.

My mind went blank for about thirty seconds. I might have fallen asleep for those few seconds; I cannot be sure about it, all I know is that for that time the noises were gone and my mind was in peace. It wasn’t until the second time I opened my eyes that I was completely aware about the whole situation. I sat up in my bed, the door was half opened and the light in the living room was on. The cries were clear now. I saw my mom and my uncle hugging each other, crying and leaning in each others’ shoulders. Nothing had to be said for me to know what happened. I had never seen my uncle cry, which is why the only thing I could think that would make him that upset was my grandfather’s death, since we had been anticipating it.

My mom and my uncle were finally able to let go of one another and my mom walked towards me. She went to hug me, but her hug made things worse. The hug meant that it was all real and the despair grew intensely. As I sat in my bed, tears fell from my eyes, glided down my cheeks, and descended upon my lap. I began feeling unexplainable pain. I felt pain inside my skin, past my ribs, right in my heart. I could not handle the melancholy, the misery this brought to me. My heart was in agony, and all I wanted to do was pull it out. Maybe if I didn’t have a heart inside of me, I would feel no pain. The thing about life is that feelings cannot be avoided.

All of a sudden, I was short on breath; I was not receiving enough air. I panicked and saw the horridness in my mom’s eyes. I needed air. I began breathing heavily through my mouth, but it still wasn’t enough. Within seconds, all around me was uncertain. I saw things blurry. This was too much for me; it was too much for everyone! My mom could not do much for me; all she could do was help try to breath normally. Several minutes later, my breath was finally under control, yet the feeling I had of sorrow did not vanish.

I stood up from my bed, and along with my mom we headed towards the living room. We joined my uncle, my aunt, and my cousin. If the house had been quiet before I went to sleep, a deeper silence laid upon us now. No one said anything nor moved at all. We were all sitting down looking into different directions. My uncle stared at the ceiling, my cousin at the floor, my aunt’s eyes were laid straight at my uncle’s feet, my mom was staring at the wall, and after I looked around at each of them, I turned my eyes down to the floor. I knew there was a revolution of thoughts in everyone’s mind. I thought about the past months. I had not seen my grandfather for seven months because he had gone back to Mexico. None of us living here in the United States had the chance to see him within those seven months. The only thing we were able to do was receive news about his health and then, his death.

My mom and uncle worked in the same job with the same hours of work. Monday through Friday they arrived home at one in the morning. Just as they arrived this night, the phone began ringing. On the other end of the phone line was my aunt from Mexico. We had never received a phone call from Mexico at that time of night, which meant there must be something happening. “No te asustes,” (Don’t get scared) my aunt said to my uncle. “He’s in a better place, where all his pain and suffering don’t exist anymore.”

Why does everyone say those words when someone dies? They’re in a better place. These words might sound comforting, but in reality they don’t comfort much. Saying that did not allow me to see him, they didn’t bring him back or take my pain away. Perhaps I have never been good of letting go of pain, so this just accumulates more. He was gone, whether he went to a better place or not, he left this world. He left us. How could I possibly go through life without his advising, his humor, his love, and his wise words representing his experience? How could I live my life without him?
From that day forth, I knew things would never be the same. Without the existence of a loved one, life is altered. I was lost at that time, but not anymore. I have come to accept that in fact, he is in a better place. He was loved here, he is still loved and he lives inside each of us that love him. His body might not be present, but his spirit is existent with the addition of his memory. His presence will always be like the air because whether we are able to feel it or not, it’s there. That night, the night of October 17, 2008, is the most memorable night of my life, as well as the saddest one. It is the night I lost a treasure, but its value will always be worth more than anything I’ve ever possessed.





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