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The Final Goodbye
In my seventeen years of life, I have done many things that I regret. When I was younger, I could never have sleepovers with my friends because I would become so homesick. I missed out on so much in my childhood. Last week I was given the option to go on a college visit to the University of Toledo and I turned it down. I wonder now if I made the right decisions in turning down countless sleepovers and my visit to the University of Toledo. But in my life, there is nothing I regret more than not spending time with my grandpa when I had the chance.
Looking back on December 7, 2002, it seemed like such a typical fifth grade winter day. We were sitting in class, discussing what we desired for Christmas. The snow was beginning to fall and our music class was in the process of casting roles for the upcoming musical. The musical was about the Presidents’ and how the First Ladies played an important role.
“I hope I get Mary Todd Lincoln,” Hannah whispered. I wanted to be Abigail Adams more than anything. She was the main character and I thought it would be my time to shine.
I was sitting in music class, awaiting the announcements on who would play what part in the musical. Our class grew loud and anxious, unsure if we would be given the roles we hoped for. Mrs. McEntee, the music teacher, had just pulled out the list of students and their roles. The class became hushed and we all crossed our fingers. But before she could begin, a voice interrupted from the loud speaker.
“Excuse me, could you please send Megan Wolowicz to the office? Her father is here to pick her up.”
The class taunted me as they did to everyone who was called to the office. Many kids were sent to the office when they had misbehaved, so their common thought was “Megan is in trouble!” I knew I had done nothing to be in trouble for, so I jumped up excitedly; I loved being called out of class! My dad hardly surprised me by coming to visit me at school. I waved goodbye to my classmates and skipped to the office. I would soon realize that this visit to the office was not so pleasant after all.
Both my dad and my brother greeted me when I approached the office. A rush of disappointment fell over me. I thought my dad had come specifically to see me, and the sight of my brother ruined my excitement.
“Dad, what’s going on?” I asked curiously.
“Meggie,” he replied, using my favorite nickname, “we are leaving town and we need to hurry.” His voice seemed tense, but at the time I thought nothing of it. My family travels a lot, so my initial thought was that he was taking us on a surprise vacation.
“Are we going to Disney World or something?” I chimed in and my brother’s eyes glowed with possibility. Before my dad could respond, my brother and I quickly planned out all of the rides we would go on. I couldn’t wait to ride Space Mountain!
“No guys,” he finally responded sympathetically. “When we get home, I need you to pack your clothes and meet us downstairs.” My brother and I were still not convinced that there was no secret vacation. Why else would we need to pack our bags?
After a silent car ride home, we raced into the house to find my mom frantically throwing clothes into a bag. Her face was red and blotchy and she refused to make eye contact with us.
“Mom, what’s going on?” I begged. I was growing so concerned. She seemed to be in a trance and didn't reply. My brother and I ran up to my dad and asked him what was going on. That’s when he told us.
“Kids, grandpa is very sick, and he isn’t going to make it much longer.” He looked at us, trying to help us understand. I was in shock. My grandpa had suffered many strokes and he had been sick for quite a while. But to me my grandpa was invincible. Throughout his life he was faced with many medical problems, and I always thought he would overcome them. I never thought he would die.
On our way to Cincinnati, where my grandparents live, my brother and I rode with my dad, while my mom drove separate. Our dad later told us that my mom needed some time to herself and she would cope better without other people. We arrived at my family’s house in record time and we raced inside to be by my grandpa’s side. We didn’t expect what was soon coming.
As we walked inside, my grandma greeted us. She looked at us and suddenly erupted into tears. My mom ran into the living room where my grandpa’s bed was and she saw his lifeless body. We were too late. My grandpa passed away thirty minutes before we arrived. I sat down in the other room and stared at the wall. I was broken. My mom and my grandma curled up on the bed with my grandpa and sobbed. As we were all mourning together, Hospice arrived and talked to my parents and my grandma, but the whole time I still felt as if I was in a nightmare. My brother and I stayed out of everyone’s way while the mood seemed to grow tense. Then, my mom came and found me and asked me something I will never forget.
“Meg, you know your grandpa loved you. How about you come in here and talk to him.” She nudged me in the direction of the living room. I thought she had to be kidding. He was dead; I couldn’t have a conversation with him. But as soon as I sat down words flowed through my mouth like water down a river.
“Grandpa,” I sobbed, “I’m so sorry for not spending time with you when I could.” I could hardly make out my words. “I wish I wouldn’t have ignored our time together.” I continued to pour out my heart to him.
“Why did you have to go grandpa? I’m about to be big sixth grader and you’re not here. What about high school and college and even my wedding! Where will you be?” He was perfectly still in his bed, as if he was taking in everything I was saying.
I sat with my grandpa until he was taken to the funeral home. It wasn’t until later that evening that I let my first tears appear. For days it seemed like I was on an emotional roller coaster. I thought of my mom as the foundation of our family. When she sat in her room at night bawling, it worried me. But I learned that grieving is healthy and a part of the healing process.
It has been almost seven years since my grandpa passed away. To this day, I am still having a hard time forgiving myself for letting time with my grandpa slip by. But my grandpa’s death taught me something very valuable; never let opportunities in life pass you by. Although the feeling of regret hasn’t gone away, I have learned that it is unhealthy to hold onto that feeling. With all experiences in life, you have to learn to let go of your negative feelings. The University of Toledo may not have been my top choice, but I plan on visiting the campus to determine whether or not it is something that I would enjoy. I turned down my first college visit to the University of Toledo. But as I reflect on my experience with my grandpa, I realized that turning down something that I could possibly regret is senseless. I think grandpa would agree.