Death

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They say that when you have an epiphany, it hits you like a brick wall. For me, however, it was a life-changing experience that never really hit me until it was irreversible.

In August 2006, my favorite grandfather was diagnosed with Stage Four Colon Cancer. There was no cure; nothing but the love of God would keep him from passing, and maybe a few chemotherapy treatments. The oncologist told him he could expect to live from six months up to a year and a half. When my dad told me this dismal news, I didn't really think he would actually pass that soon and luckily he did not. He survived until September 2009, just a little over three years after being diagnosed. In the end, he was lying in his bedroom surrounded by all his loved ones but when he actually passed, those three years seemed like three days.

My grandparents are very religious and knew that when he died he would be welcomed in Heaven with open arms. I never put much thought into death because I am terrified of it. It wasn't until he was gone that I found myself thinking about death whether I wanted to or not. This whole experience opened my eyes to a lot. It showed me the meaning of living your life to the fullest as I pondered life and death and what it means to be a part of a loving family.

Death relates to all. Saying goodbye to a loved one can be the glue that bonds a family together. In my experience, it gave us time as a group to listen to each others' feelings and also time to think about the good and not to dwell on the bad. Remembering unforgettable moments and sharing memories with those who can relate was therapeutic.

Sometimes, however, I cannot get myself to think about the positives of death. I focus on the negative because of my fears. I am afraid of losing someone I cannot live without. I am afraid of dying without being able to say my personal goodbyes. I am afraid of the unknown after death even though I do believe in Heaven. I don't want to leave this Earth knowing my loved ones will be left to grieve over my death even though I believe someday we will see each other again. I think the main reasons I am afraid of death are the questions that I cannot go a day without thinking about. These questions include when, where, and how am I going to die.

God is in control of our destiny and he doesn't let us know when, where, or how because if we knew we wouldn't be able to live our lives the way He intended. We would constantly be thinking about it and counting down the days until it happened. After my grandpa's death, I realized we don't get all the time in the world, so we should live life to the fullest and always treat people the way we want to be treated. We should never say things to anyone we might regret because it could end up being the last thing we get to say to them. Always say goodbye like it is the last time and just be happy overall. You get one life to live, one to call your own, and one you want to be able to say you lived right.

I guess it wasn't until now that I realized that in fact I have had two epiphanies. The first one, the passing of my Grandpa Ray taught me the meanings and importance of family and God. The second, writing this essay has gotten me to answer my own questions and concerns about the matters of life and death. Maybe I don't have to be afraid of death anymore and one thing is for certain -- epiphanies don't always hit you like a brick wall!





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