In the past year, I lost the two people I was most scared to lose. I think terrified is a more accurate description.
Growing up, I never lost anyone close to me. Goldfish, sure. Distant cousins, maybe. But it never really hit me. I was never close enough to the loss that it affected my everyday life.
I always sympathized with friends who lost family members, because as I said, “I couldn’t imagine.”
It all happened in such a short amount of time. My world became a tornado. I never stopped spinning. My first loss was our childhood dog. I remembered coming home from pre-school and having her jump at my feet. I’ve never felt more excitement over anything. When it was time to put her out of her misery, although my mom warned me it would be painful, I re-assured her I needed to be there. Man’s best friend. She was there for me my whole life, she needed me now. I pet the spot behind her ear that always made her feel at ease, and she looked into my eyes as she laid her head to rest. I never thought I could feel more pain in my life. Boy was I wrong.
I remember crying to my therapist,
“My pop pop is very sick,” I said.
“He’s going in for open heart surgery. He’s the brave one, I’m not sure if I can handle it. I told him since I can’t be there, that he should think of me if he gets scared, and I will be right there holding his hand.”
The best phone call I have ever received was letting me know my pop pop made it through the surgery. 80 years old. What a fighter. The downside, was it was a downwards spiral from here. My pop pop lost his pep, he slowly gave up the fight, and the weight seemed to be melting off of him.
I’ve been calling everyday, and I would talk to him until he would decide that he would rather watch Judge Judy.
“Nobody seems to want me to go,” I said. “To visit, I mean. And, I’m not sure I would want to see him like this.”
“Well, would you be okay if you never saw him again?” the therapist asked me.
I spit the word, “no!” back at her before she even finished asking what I hope no one would ever ask. I booked my flight to Florida as soon as I got home. In this situation, sure it will be the hardest pain you’ve ever experienced in your life, but you need to experience it. My pop pop has been there for me for every bump I have ever experienced in my short 16 years of life, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to be there for him.
I sat by his bed for three days. The nurses would rub my back, and suggest I get some rest in my own bed. I was reluctant to leave his side, and a little bit pissed that they would even suggest it. We all held hands, and we all cried. We didn’t need to speak, because all of the words we needed to say, were silently spoken.
The nurses told us it wouldn’t be long, and said that we should tell him that it was okay to let go. I juggled the possibility in my mind of doing so, but somehow it didn’t seem right. But, I knew for his sake, it would be what was best.
I squeezed his hand and slowly spoke, “Pop, don’t be scared. I will take care of mom and nanny. I promise you. I love you and I miss you already.”
That night, I stayed up until 3:30 sitting next to my pop pop.
“You should get some sleep sweetie,” said the nurse. I was too tired to argue.
7:03 June 30 was the worst wake up call I have ever gotten in my entire life.
“It’s time” my mom said.
We crowded around my pop pops bed arm in arm as he took his final breaths. We were all there as he received his wings, and made his way up to the pearly gates.
I spent a lot of time alone. Writing, reading, walking, and listening to music. I refused to think about it, because once I did, it was real, and he was gone.
My nanny woke me up one morning and told me she loved me. She believed that she was dying, and she didn’t want to fight anymore.
“You have to. You have to promise me,” I panicked.
I hugged her tight.
My nanny was a fighter. But, to the people who say you can’t die of a broken heart, I beg to differ. My nanny couldn’t see life without my pop pop. After 60 years of marriage, she was ready to follow him into the next phase of life.
Just shy of a year after I said good-bye to my pop pop, I said good-bye to my nanny.
Even though we were in different states, I feel the void everyday. When I achieve something great in my career or at school, I jump to the phone, and get an empty line. When I need advice, I hear my nanny’s voice, and see her wagging her finger at me. When I feel depressed, I hear her saying that I’m a young girl, and I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. “Enjoy this life,” she always told me.
They say it gets easier, but it doesn’t. It’s been two years, and I haven’t stopped spinning. It’s been two years, and I haven’t sat down and really cried. Until now.
In short, what I’ve learned from my Nanny and Pop Pop:
-Life is too short not to enjoy every second of it
-Even if you think no one is on your side, your family always is.
-Cherish the people in your life.
-Cherish little moments.
-It may hurt, do it anyway
-Don’t have enemies- people have enough going on in their life, you don’t need to make it any harder for them.
-Tell the people that you love that you love them.
-Don’t speak with an ugly tongue. If you don’t like somebody, mind your business, but you still have to be nice.
-Love is the driving force for everything in this world. You’re either searching for it, fighting to keep it, or following it. Love with all of your heart whether it be endeavors you embark upon or people you encounter.
-There’s nothing more beautiful in this world than two people so deeply in love, that they couldn’t bear to see life without the other.