The Familiar Stranger

March 30, 2012
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The sun had just slid behind the mountains;
The horizon once ablaze with crimson lights was now empty with the exception of stars.
In the country constellations shine proudly and admire their beauty in the mirror of the lake.
They light up the night with the help of the full moon,
Bringing serenity that can’t be found in the city.
Shooting stars danced across the sky to the owl’s song;
Bullfrogs and crickets soon joined in the melody.
Yet, even the beauty of this night could not qualm my anxiety.

I glanced over to the living room.
The place where a vibrant, invincible figure once stood,
Was now occupied by a man with bleak, frail arms, failing expression, and a heavy heart.
A complete stranger.
More than anything I wanted to run away,
Escape from the imposter,
And be embraced by the security of my mother’s arms.
Yet, something compelled me to stay.
He had these unforgettable, ever familiar, blue eyes,
That kept me frozen in place, unable to scream or run.
They told me his story,
How countless times his hope shone strong in the face of adversity,
How whenever faced with oppression he never went down without a fight to protect what he believed in.
How even though he was fighting a losing battle, he would never let cancer defeat him.
No matter what, it would never change him.
Yet, I could also see a twinge of pain and terror in his eyes,
As he worried what would become of his family,
What it would be like to one day fall asleep and never wake up,
How he would be able to make every last day count.

His eyes met mine,
Immediately the worry and vulnerability vanished in his eyes.
He was going to stay strong for us,
Make us believe that everything would be okay.
A smile broke out across his face, and I could see him again.
I recognized that easy smile and removable fake tooth that was the center of jokes and the source of my laughter throughout my childhood.
My PopPop.
The one who watched baseball games with me every chance he got,
Was there to support me in all my endeavors,
Was my best friend.

For a moment I forgot about it all,
His frail figure,
His bleak face,
His condition.
Yet, it all rushed back and hit me with such force that I was released from grasp of his image and driven outside.
Torn by the idea of losing my grandpa,
I looked around at the beauty of the vista.
Listened to the peace in nature’s song,
And watched the stars narcissistically swoon over their reflection.

How could there be such beauty and grace in the world where evil and misery resides?
Why was God mocking me?
This question left my mind speechless.





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