My smile stayed frozen in place as the words my mother had just said sunk into me. It had no effect, as I waited and waited. Minutes passed by and my knees grew weak as the information I'd heard slowly went through my system.
My grandpa was dead.
I would never see him again.
The first sob - not belonging to me - caught my attention. It wracked the body of my mother as she broke into tears. The receptionist cast us both a worried glance and quickly grabbed a box of tissues and handed a few to my mother who cried.
I'd never seen her cry before.
Slowly, I walked towards her. My hands shook by my side as I lifted myself onto the plastic chair and reached out to her timidly.
"Mom, what are you saying?"
She didn't have to answer that this time because I already knew the answer. The realization just hadn't come yet. And when it did, it hurt.
I'd cried before - a lot. Bad dreams of the bad guys trying to get me, or of my teddy bear eating me in my sleep. Once, I jumped off the swing and fell into the cement on the sidewalk close by instead of the sand, scratching the surface of my palms hard against the tarmac. It bled and I wept.
But for the first time, I felt that uncomfortable feeling. A suffocation. My throat choked up as if someone had shoved ice cubes down my mouth. I swallowed but it wouldn't go away.
Then, the first tear escaped my eye. This time not of physical pain or of a nightmare. This time, it was one of loss, the one where the bad guy really had gotten to me. He'd stolen one of the people I loved the most in my life and I knew he would never give him back.
A child's tears are pure - an innocent's grieving. And that's what I had for the first time in my life.
At the age of seven, I grieved for a man I loved.
Grandpa - one word with a huge meaning.
And now, that meaning had been lost.