Saying Goodbye for the First Time This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 27, 2013
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Everyone has to deal with a death at some point in their lives. I could even be considered lucky. I know people who have lost their parents, some even before they got to meet them, but everything still seemed so unfair. When I was in the seventh grade, and I was 11 years old, my grandmother had reached the point in her illness where she was too weak to survive. It was difficult always having to be “prepared” for something to happen. She had been struggling for so many years; for all we knew, death could appear at any time.

My grandmother’s name is Dorothy Berian. My extended family has always called me Dot, claiming I looked and sounded exactly like her when she was my age. My grandmother, who I called Grammy, has always been a strong person. She was 57 years old when she was in a car accident that paralyzed her from the neck down. When she finally healed she went through years and years of physical therapy, and still had to exercise her non-functioning muscles. The only memories I have with my grandmother are her in a wheelchair. Memories of my grandmother in her wheelchair are the only memories we share.

Occasionally my grandmother would stay with my family to give my grandfather a break from all the work he does to take care of her. The later in life they traveled, the more difficult it would get for my Grandpa. Weeks that my grandmother would stay with my family would be huge bonding experiences. We had so many things in common: the way we looked, the way we sounded; we both had bottomless sweet tooth’s and strange fascinations to puzzles and card games. We always seemed to finish each other’s sentences, I’d hear her call my name and already be prepared with a candy bar in my hand. It always made her so happy to see we were thinking the same. Something that didn’t make her as happy was that I’d always finish her puzzles for her as well.

In September of 2010, I entered the seventh grade, and my grandmother was placed in the hospital for congestive heart failure. My family was told she didn’t have a long time to live. After a few weeks we were told she had but a few days, which is when we went in to say goodbye. I knew it would be a difficult situation to be in, but I had no idea what the state of my grandmother would be.

When we walked into her room she looked even more delicate and frail than normal. She had very little facial expression; she was lying perfectly still, and was barely taking up any space in her bed. We tried to update her on our lives, telling her about my good grades and the play I recently starred in. There was no feedback, just the slight upward curve of her eyes so we could tell she was proud. When it was time to go, we all went in for our goodbyes. We would awkwardly reach over her still body, and tried to hold our bodies up against hers. The second I went to kiss her on the cheek, her lips puckered. I smiled and took a step back. My grandfather said that was the most affection she’d shown in weeks. It was then where it finally hit me; she wasn’t getting better like all the other times before. After all of the trips to the hospital, physical therapy, thousands of medications, she seemed to recover. This time was not like the others. There would be no more puzzles together, no more sneaking out chocolate and ice cream to share past bedtime. The last time I would see and communicate with my grandmother, and the most she could do was pucker her lips.

Riding home with my misty-eyed siblings was saddening, but strange. I had never seen my brother cry before, and I would almost be embarrassed to see him do so. I tried not to cry either, but I couldn’t hold it in. I silently cried the way home, and even more in my bed later that night. School was uncomfortable considering everyone was trying to console me. Whenever someone apologized for my situation I didn’t know how to respond; this was the first death I’ve ever experienced.

September 25th, 2013 was the marking of when my grandmother passed away three years ago. She is a woman I will always look up to; she stayed extremely positive through her condition, and always stuck to her values. She never considered setting limits for herself, and even managed to travel the world in a wheel chair. She will always be a huge piece of my life, and I like to believe she watches over me today.

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