Losing someone you truly love is never easy. Especially when it’s so unexpected.
Although it’s Christmas day, I thought I’d share a story that’s been heavy on my heart and mind.
Two days after Kylie’s 5th birthday and two days before Thanksgiving, I lost someone really special to me – my grandpa. I didn’t really publicize this to people – only those very close to me. Since November 20th, life has been very different without him – mainly bad, but good in some ways as well. Besides feeling like our hearts have been ripped from our bodies, especially my grandma’s .. It has brought my entire family closer – some of them had rarely ever spoken to each other and we have not been together in the same house/room in YEARS. It’s kind of crazy how death brings people closer together, even enemies.
I’ve never imagined life without my grandpa, even though I knew he was getting older and more frail. But in my eyes, he has always been a very strong, masculine and independent individual. I’m pretty sure I told myself he would be here forever. Forever ended too soon and unfortunately, it was unexpectedly as well. I think about that very day almost every single day now. From being at work and getting that phone call. Rushing to the hospital and being there only to receive the worse news I’ve ever received in my life. And I’ve been through some shit. Like some real, deep shit. But this tops it all. Everyone was broken. My entire family in one room, broken.
I’ve never seen my grandma so sad in my life. I’ve never seen her cry so much. I’ve never seen her plead with others until that very moment. I can’t imagine what it was like to walk into his room in the hospital to tell him he had two choices – to either save his life but live a life he wouldn’t love, or to end his life in peace. And to think I was selfish enough to say, “let’s save his life.”… makes me kind of sick. I didn’t think of the future. I didn’t think of how he would be living and that would be .. unhappy. My grandpa told my grandma and uncle to let him go. As much as it hurts to hear that and as much as she didn’t want to, she granted his wish.
The entire family was able to visit with him while he was able to hear and talk a little bit. He saw ALL 9 of his children including their spouses, 11 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. As sad as the moment was, it was a blessing at the same time to see everyone he loved before he left. It was a blessing in itself that he had the ability to choose what he wanted to do with his life. It broke our hearts into 1,000 pieces.
Fast forward to the end of the night, we all had left except my grandma, uncle and younger cousin. It was about 45 minutes after we left the hospital when we received another phone call. It was the call that changed all of our lives. I’ll never forget the way my mother screamed over the phone while crying. I’ll never forget turning my car around to get my cousin and rushing back to the hospital. I will never forget arriving and just seeing his lifeless, pale body laying there. I sat beside my grandpa for a very long time, hugging and caressing his arm. It was getting so cold. And every time I looked at him, I thought he would magically wake up. Silly of me to think of that, I know.
Knowing my grandma is heart broken every day, even when she doesn’t show it, hurts. Knowing she doesn’t grocery shop or cook for two anymore or knowing that she talks to his picture every night, asking him to come home, it hurts.
I never knew their story. I never knew they loved each other for 5 years before getting married or how her family disapproved of them, but they got married anyhow. They moved from one side of Vietnam to the other just to be happily together. They went through a torturous and long journey just to come to America to give all 9 of their children better lives. My grandparents were married for 65 years. 65 whole years!
I am at least happy to say he lived a long life. 88 is longer than most these days I feel. But I still wish he were here. He enjoyed receiving visits from Kylie and giving her candy even when I would say no. The day after she turned 5, we delivered a large piece of her cake to them after I got off from work. That was the last thing he shared with my grandma – a piece of Kylie. And I will never forget their bond on that day. He was so happy to see her, to say Happy Birthday and to witness her turn 5 and 1 day! What a happy day it was..
But now we mourn and we accept that he is no longer here. I hope each day brings my grandma more peace, although I know it is hard to deal with. But being surrounded by everyone she loves helps tremendously. To be able to be with her, talk and cry with her and share beautiful photos and memories.. it’ll be something I cherish forever. Something that I’ve cherished with the both of them.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but eventually I know things will get a little easier. Life may be different now, but the love is there. I think that’s all we need. We all need to surround ourselves with love and be with those we care for every chance we get because tomorrow is never promised.