My grandma deserved a much better life than the one that was handed to her.
She was a fighter, a survivor, and all around the most beautiful person I knew. She radiated poise and elegance. She made me feel loved beyond measure. I consider her not only the most influential person of my childhood, but of my entire life so far.
My parents and I lived on a ranch, with my grandparents just a few feet next door. I didn’t have many friends and as an only child, my only source of human interaction was skipping over to her house every morning before school, and racing to the big white doors once I returned home. My grandma was my best friend — we did everything together.
While we didn’t always get along, I never felt safer and more loved than when I was in her presence.
When I was 10 years old, my grandma (or as I called her, Ma) was diagnosed with lung cancer. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. My mom just told me to spend as much time with her as possible, but none of it made sense to me. My grandma had never smoked a day in her life. She was the healthiest person I knew.
I latched onto my grandma as she went through her treatment, and a year later was given a clean bill of health. We were all ecstatic, and I was so glad to have my best friend back by my side, instead of in a hospital bed. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t taken advantage of that time.
The summer before my freshman year of high school, my grandma was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. How could this happen? She was so good to herself, and to all of us, and had been punished with this disease.
The doctors tried their best, but eventually she was completely bedridden.
This was not the grandma I knew: the grandma I knew was lively and vivacious and feisty and glowed with love. The women I saw laying in bed everyday was sick and cold and could barely talk. She now had strange people surrounding her, helping her take her medications and refilling her oxygen tanks… I didn’t know this person.
No one knew how much time she had left, and that terrified me to no end. This woman was my idol, my hero and my inspiration. She inspired me in so many ways and to see her like this sent me into a deep, deep depression. I developed severe anxiety disorder and wouldn’t sleep. I spent every day that summer by my grandma’s side, never knowing when God wanted to beckon her up to her new home.
I walked into my math class on my first day of high school, and not even 15 minutes into the class I was called to the office. That’s when it hit me: I knew something wasn’t right.
I couldn’t feel anything, and I just wanted to shut down. My mom picked me up, sobbing, but I couldn’t bring myself to cry. I sat in silence in the car on the way to my grandma’s house and I felt the worst gut feeling when I walked into her room. I will never forget that sight. My grandma, with no life in her once sparkling eyes, laying in bed, cold and no longer living. I was given some time to say goodbye, but it never felt like long enough. That day was the last time I ever saw my grandma, and it was not in the way I had hoped.
It’s been almost five years since my grandma has passed and I would be lying if I said that it’s not still hard.
Everyday I think of her and everything she went through. She worked so hard to give my family and I the life we enjoy today. The grief will come at random times, and will linger for days, but she never leaves my mind. I love my grandma more than anyone I have ever met in my entire life.
She inspired me to do what I love, and I wouldn’t be half the person I am if it wasn’t for her. One of her favorite things was theatre — she was an actress and a singer, just like me. Whenever I hear the lyrics from a song in my favorite show (Into the Woods), I know my grandma is there with me, and I know she is proud of what I’ve done, even when I’m not.
“Sometimes people leave you, halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good. You are not alone. No one is alone.”