Themes these entries portray: getting healed gradually after a hard time, and experiencing joy again through the love of God and the kindness of others. I wrote the first entry the day I found out that my grandpa died. At the time, I was a wreck. I immensely struggled and I even doubted my faith. But in the end, it prevailed. Later on, I was able to pick up the pieces of my life. I could've never made it through this storm without my friends, family, and teachers (especially my religion teacher)
June 12, 2008
Not even Spirit Day could’ve prepared me for this. Not even the fact that I went to the last after-school art lesson of the year—we even had sundaes to celebrate. Plus, I had dinner tonight with Sister Grace—who I haven’t seen in months! And it’s so ironic now to think that I could’ve been so happy just hours ago. Everything seemed to be going so well. I spent time with friends, studied for finals, and I thought life was wonderful. But I wasn’t thinking about what was going on outside of here—outside of my life, yet inside at the same time. Family seemed like forever, and it felt like nothing could come between that. Not sickness, not Missouri, not even—no, I can’t say it. I don’t want to believe it. I won’t.
I found out this evening, when Mom said that she and Daddy needed to have a serious talk with me. At first I was worried—had I done something? Was I in trouble? But once I realized who they were talking about, it sunk in. I knew that a pulse had stopped beating and someone was gone. It was over. Poppa was dead. I cried as if there was no tomorrow, for now I knew that he would never be back.
He left the world Tuesday night, peacefully in his sleep. I didn’t understand how he could be dead, just like that. How could he leave us so quietly, after the full time care at the nursing home? The oxygen? The medicine? After all of the time he spent with us over the years, along with all of his love, care, and stubbornness; plus all of the memories we had?
What about the fact that we had left his apartment untouched, so he could come back from Missouri if he felt better? Didn’t all of the homemade crafts I made him ever since I was a little kid mean anything? The photos, the cards, the poems? What about us, his family? Wasn’t what we did for him—more importantly, what he did for us in the past, even a little bit important? Wasn’t it enough? I thought love was strong enough to save someone. I thought… But it doesn’t matter now. Poppa is gone, and life is never going to be the same again. I knew he was old, I knew he was suffering, I knew he was sick. I knew that he was going to die soon. We all did. But I also thought that he would be in the nursing home for more than twelve days! I’m no idiot—it was inevitable that Poppa’s time with us wasn’t going to be for much longer. The matter is, it happened too soon.
I had a sinking feeling that when Poppa said he was going to the nursing home, this was soon to come. This, being now, the fate I can’t accept.
However, one of the most surprising things is that my parents didn’t tell me right away. Mom found out first thing Wednesday morning, as did Dad. He said that they didn’t want to tell me then because they “didn’t want to ruin Spirit Day.” But the last time I hid from reality and the truth, it did more harm than good, believe it or not. But part of me knew it was there, nevertheless. The one thing I could not do was come right out and face it, so as a result, I crumbled.
Now, circumstances were a bit different, but I still felt the blow of fate. But this time I knew it was out of my control, for this was something that I could not change.
Nevertheless, I still wanted to leave. I wanted to go somewhere far, far away and be confident that I knew where I was going. For I was lost enough already, and I wanted to be able to find something—anything that would emit even the slightest bit of tranquility, hope, or comfort. Any piece of love.
But the one person who I wanted to be near was nowhere to be found—Poppa.
As it turns out, I didn’t get very far. I took a walk down Willow Lane, a street near my house. Every now and then I would mutter a few words to myself, but for the most part, I was just weeping ceaselessly. If anyone say me, they were probably wondering who this crazy little girl was.
“It’s me, and only me!” I wanted to shout. “I’m not a freak now! Just look at me! I’m what you would be right now if you were in my shoes. I’m just a person who has natural emotions. But then again, nothing feels natural right now. Maybe I am crazy. My essence matters no more. I’m not the one who has left myself, but it is Poppa who has left. He went to go to Heaven, if there is such a place. As of now, I don’t rightly know. Maybe it’s under reconstruction right now and won’t be open for another year. Really! What do I know? Me, I’m just a silly rainbow child, whose colors have faded to gray. I have been plagued with a painful loss, and nothing will be the same ever again!”
I continued to pace. I walked up and down the streets countless times. Finally, I decided to go into the woods at the end of Willow Lane. I didn’t go deep into them, for I was afraid that I would be unable to find my way out. But I needed to be as far away as possible from the rest of the world. I just wanted to shout all that I couldn’t say before. However, it was me, a puny human being, among the vast skies overhead, the ground beneath me, the trees towering above me, and, nearby, the dead-end street. I was no match for any of life’s vigorous storms. But I couldn’t stay silent forever.
“Poppa!” I shouted to the sky.
I trembled, inside and out. I felt loss consume me and never let go.
“Is there going to be a rainbow after this storm?” I asked, to no one and everyone.
“I…I don’t know,” my voice quivered.
And that was the end of it.
When Mom found me, I was sitting on the side of the road, meditating.
She took me back home, and we talked about Poppa a little bit. Once of the things she told me was, “If people are crying after you died, then that means you were truly a good person. You lived a good life.” That was all I remembered hearing amid my deep contemplation.
I was left wondering a lot of things about God, heaven, family, friends, death, and even life itself. But the most pressing question of all was if death truly is a part of life. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
June 13, 2008
I decided to go to school today. There was no funeral to attend, no wake either. Poppa just wanted to be cremated. Mom said that I didn’t have to go to school, but I wanted to. I wanted to learn. I wanted to see my friends, as well as my religion teacher. I wanted to be able to laugh and smile again. I wanted to live. For me, school was the perfect place to do all of these things.
When I came in today, I almost looked like my usual self. But part of me was missing. A part of me will always be missing. Also, my yarn necklace and ribbon were black, as a symbol of mourning.
I knew I wasn’t just going to keep it a secret. I had to at least tell people what was going on. So the first person I told was my religion teacher. I knew he would understand, since his grandmother died a few years ago. And after talking to my religion teacher, I felt much better. I told him about the last time I spoke to Poppa. It was when I was studying for finals, and I was talking to Poppa on the phone. I said how I had been stressed and worried about final exams, because I really wanted to do well. Poppa had told me that as long as I did my best, everything would be okay. For my best was all I could do. That was my final memory of Poppa’s voice.
My religion teacher truly listened as I told him this. Afterwards, he gave me a big hug.
My friends were sympathetic as well, although they probably wondered why I was in school after such a thing had happened. But they knew I needed them, so they were there for me.
The truth is, I still haven’t finished crying all of the tears that will be shed. I’ll be sad in the future, just as I am sad now. I know that I won’t live forever, but no person is meant to. Don’t get me wrong, I know that life is precious, but as long as I am on this earth, I must remember something. I must remember that someday I will be with God forever, just as Poppa is now. Not even death will separate us.
In the meantime, I will live every day as if it were my last, just as Poppa did this year. If I look at life from the right perspective, then I will see that I am closer to Poppa now than when he was physically here on Earth. Now, he is with me everywhere; always watching over his granddaughter. He is my guardian angel, and angels can’t die.
Even though part of me will feel inevitably broken for a long time, I know that there is glue to put the pieces back together. And that glue is called love.
June 20, 2008
It’s been more than a week since Poppa’s death. I talked to Grandma and Daniel recently, which made me feel a lot better. I’m glad that there are other people I can confide in, even if they aren’t my friends at school. Believe it or not, I find comfort in the fact that life is still going on around me. Even though my whole family has been devastated since Poppa’s death, we’ve still managed to keep going and live our lives. But I don’t think anyone will ever fully realize how much losing Poppa affected me. After all, I was as close to him as I am to my mom and dad. That’s the thing that is hard for others to understand.
Fortunately, if one of us is sad, we don’t hold back. There is no reason to be afraid to cry. In fact, Dad told me that he shed many a tear after Poppa died. The truth is, I can’t think of a time off the top of my head when I’ve seen my dad cry. But I have no doubt that he does.
As for myself, I’m surviving somehow. If someone didn’t know, then they’d say that I was my normal self. The surprising part is, I can smile, laugh, and be happy once again, for I know that is what Poppa would have wanted. I honestly don’t know how I’m getting through this, but I’m thanking the good Lord that I am.
Still, I know that the grief won’t go away overnight, or even over the course of next year. The most significant loses stay in our hearts for years to come, but more importantly, our loved ones remain in our hearts forever.
And now, I know the answer to the question I asked in the woods that day—as well as the thought I pondered afterwards. There is a rainbow after this storm, and death truly is a part of life. That is something which will never change, no matter what time, fate, or distance render.