Gone, but Not Forgotten

October 27, 2012
By Nicole_Kim BRONZE, Fort Lee, New Jersey
Nicole_Kim BRONZE, Fort Lee, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I sat in my room, glued to my chair, just like any other Thursday afternoon, doing biology homework. “When am I ever going to use the cell theory in my life?” I said aloud to no one in particular. If there’s one class I just can’t stand, it’s biology. The smell of my mom’s weekly Korean vegetable stew drifted up the stairs from the kitchen below and my mouth watered. As I thought about the sharp spicy scent of my mom’s stew, I could not help but anticipate the coming dinner. I imagined the soft, sticky rice coupled with the savory, smoky beef. This delectable harmony was shattered by the reminder that I still had a stack of biology worksheets to tackle. Suddenly, my mom’s sharp, beeping cell phone ringtone echoed throughout the house. “Hello?” my mom said. There was silence for a moment. I wondered what was going on. A loud crash broke the silence and I jumped up.

“Mom? Are you ok?” I shouted.

No answer. I could still hear her mumbling on the phone. Startled, I popped up from my chair and ran toward the kitchen. My mom leaned against the counter, her face bright red. Her eyes were sad and her shoulders shrugged. I could have sworn I heard her choking up, as if she was holding back tears. I stood at the doorway of the kitchen, waiting.

“Everything’s going to be fine and tomorrow it’ll be all back to normal,” I reassured myself. My grandfather had been in a car accident. The words numbed my whole body, like a piercing shot, as my mom passed on the news to me. It can’t be that bad, I thought. Everything is going to be normal tomorrow. I returned to my room, recalling that I still had some biology homework left to do. Rather than crying, I continued taking notes on the cell theory. This was me “coping.” I fell asleep sometime after midnight.

As I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes the next morning, I stared at my alarm clock. The red numbers on it seemed especially bright. Why am I awake this early? I thought for a moment. I collapsed back down onto my bed and closed my eyes again. Suddenly I remembered that we were supposed to visit grandpa in the hospital. I sat up slowly and yawned. As I walked out into the hallway, I called down to my parents bedroom, “Mom what time are we going to see Grandpa?” There was no answer. The house was unusually quiet and I suddenly wondered if I was the only one awake. I knocked on my parents’ door softly. No response. There was nothing but silence.

My grandpa had passed away at 11:43 p.m. at Queens Hospital. Just like that, my grandpa was no longer with us. With something as eternal as time, I expected to have the chance to ask my grandpa how he was, how he was feeling. I needed time to ask him about what had actually happened. But, when I woke up the next morning, time was lost. I no longer had that open window to take the initiative and go visit him in the hospital. It was as if the gateway to another world had just shut and I was left on the other side, wondering what could have happened if I had hurried over to the other side. The next feeling that consumed my entire body and slowly ate away at center was undoubtedly, regret. “How different would things have been if I had gone to visit my grandpa earlier? Would I have gotten the chance to talk to him for one last time?” I perpetually thought to myself. After hearing the news, I walked back into bed and stayed there for the rest of the day. My body was cold and battered with grief, numb even. I felt empty and hollow, and continued to feel this way for the next few days.

With so many “if’s” running through my mind, I simply lost interest. I lost interest in things that usually kept me captivated for hours. I lost interest in schoolwork. I lost interest in myself. I used to and still do sometimes, wonder how things could have been different if I had been less selfish and gone with my parents to the hospital to see my grandpa. I could have had a chance to tell him how much I love him and that I was praying for him to get better. Sadly, I never got that chance. It was as if my opportunity to see my grandpa one last time had been stolen from me; taken away from me forever.

The next few weeks were the most difficult and I remember them distinctly. What I learned was that when someone deals with loss, everything else around them is less important, whether it may be trivial hobbies, or past relationships. Although I had not completely “checked out” from my life, I certainly was not relieved of any past remorsefulness. I felt like I had an enduring cloud of regret, hate, and sadness surrounding me as I trudged my way through each week. The cloud was heavy with grief and followed me everywhere I went. At the mention or thought of my grandpa’s presence, my hands swelled up, my eyes became watery, and with one brief moment of silence, I could have started crying. However, once the day of the funeral had arrived, everything had changed; and yet somehow, life goes on.

With any loss, guilt is inevitable. What is most difficult to understand is the fact that you cannot change what has already happened. At some point in life, we all have to experience it, understand it, and face it, but it still hurts.

The author's comments:
My grandpa's passing taught me a valuable, yet painful lesson that many teens have come to experienced.

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