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Learning the Importance of Family Through Loss

A perfect moment in time, one that could be burned into a memory forever, this memory being a painful one or a joyous thing to remember. One memory will always hold a special place in my heart- the event of my grandfather, or as otherwise known as my Pap-Pap, passing. With this memory there were many firsts, my first close family member dying, the first time I saw my father cry, and the first time I realized my family could get through anything, as long as we had each other. My grandfather’s life was spent stressing the importance of family; he loved every single one of us with an unconditional love that only a grandfather could give. My grandfather was always at all of our games, birthday parties, or any special event. Every Sunday, the entire family would gather just because we all missed each other and wanted to engage in each other’s presence. This atmosphere was the most loving and caring protection away from the harsh world anyone could ask for. When my grandfather became sick and I visited him in the intensive care unit at least five times a week. My cousins and I would drive there together, and discussed the possibility of his passing, so that we could be prepared for what we saw.

The first time I saw my Pap-Pap in the hospital, I couldn’t help but to well up with tears as soon as I saw him confined to the bed. When I looked at his face, with the breathing tube forced down his throat, wires hooked up everywhere, and a mask over his face, so only his eyes would show, I knew things would be rough. He gave me a look that a young child would give off when he lost his mother in a large shopping mall, the look of being terrified, almost as if anyone or anything would not help in this moment, until the store clerk comes over and the young child, still giving the look of hopelessness, gives off a sense of hope and comfort in the man that will try to help him. I broke down. I turned to my cousin Jessica and wept in her arms, while she comforted me as she began to sob. I knew I could not help my grandfather. I felt like the store clerk trying to help find a child’s mother in a sea of thousands of people.

            Things took a turn for the worst, and I felt as if I needed to be strong for my younger siblings, and I looked to my older cousins for comfort, and my father looked to his children for an escape. One night my father came into my room, shut the door, sat on my bed, and just hung his head. He started by telling me that Pap-Pap would not be with us much longer, and he had to make the decision to cut his father off of life support. He paused for a long time. I almost felt the silence choking me up, forcing the tears right out of my eyes, and he then continued, his eyes swelled up, and in a whimpering voice fallowed by sobs he exclaimed, “This is my daddy, and I don’t want my daddy to leave us.” I took him in my arms while he began to weep and shake uncontrollably. My father wept in my arms all night long, knowing that the next day his father, my grandfather, would die. There was a feeling of hopelessness, but at the same time I felt as if everything was going to be okay when my father and I spent the night crying in each other’s arms.

            On the night of my grandfather’s passing, my entire family gathered around his hospital bed, took each other in one another’s arms, and recited the Lord’s Prayer in perfect unison. In this moment, things didn’t get easier or even a bit hopeful, I realized that my grandfather was going to take his last breath soon; in his last breath he would find life, and be proud of the family that was gathered before him. In last moments of my Pap-Pap’s life on earth, he was able to do something that he had always been so good at and enjoyed so much- bringing the family all together.

Pittsburgh native, coffee lover, reading enthusiust
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