The Night My Grandfather was Gone

Raidah Tabassum
Art & Literature
The Night My Grandfather was Gone
At any point in your life, you can simply feel out of control. I don’t mean being angry and disruptive, I mean that your life is out of your hands and you just have to watch it happen. It was April 23rd, 2014. I was still seven years old. My grandfather had a stroke, and was admitted into the hospital. He stayed overnight and was in bad condition. It was hard for me to realize the depth in the situation. I never realized how hard it must’ve been for my mom, and I would never be able to fathom what it was like for her.

My grandparents, on both sides, lived in Bangladesh which is in Asia. As they were both a whole ocean away, I was never really able to visit them as much as I wanted to. I was never able to see my grandfather or my grandmother on my dad’s side, as my grandfather passed away when my dad was fourteen. My grandmother, also on my dad’s side, passed away when I wasn’t even born. I never visited her once in my life, but my parents always tell me stories about them. My other grandfather passing away is the only one I can remember.

My grandfather passing away is the only one that affected me the most. I remember it being a normal Wednesday morning, the spring season still making its mark, and the day being a fairly normal school day. None of us were expecting the news we would later receive. It was my mom’s sister in-law and brother. They were on the phone with my grandma and were both incredibly miserable.

I first heard of the news when I got home from second grade. Frankly, I didn’t know how to feel. I had never dealt with the loss of someone I saw face-to-face, talked to, and actually remember the memories I had with them. I essentially never realized that things like this actually happen. People can just be gone, just like that. I felt guilty about not putting in the effort to know them more. I wholeheartedly regret that I never learned that it’s not like the movies, where your grandparents live to see you get married, and maybe even have your first child. My seven year old self never realized that, and I wish I had.

“What happened?” I said unknowingly as I got into my dad’s car. Even at that age, I could sense that the all around vibe was off. I also noticed that my mom wasn’t in the car, and I knew that something was definitely off.

“Your grandfather is in the hospital” my dad said solemnly.

I didn’t know how to feel. My mind was buried underneath all of my questions and thoughts I had at that moment. Instead of blowing my dad up with my thousands of questions at this sad time, I just asked, “Why?”.

This simple question could’ve been answered with anything, but I wasn’t expecting an answer. The only thing I was hoping to hear was “He will get better” or “He’s fine”. The next hours are a blur. I only have one prominent memory which is of the part we all never wanted to hear.

Seeing my mother breakdown like she did that night, left me feeling helpless. For the past seven years of my life, I viewed my mom as someone who was indestructible, someone who can handle any stressful situation with ease. My mom has always helped me out with my seven year old self’s “issues”.It has never been the other way around.

The silence on the phone scared me. I remember my mom repeating, “Hello?” into the phone, hoping that she wouldn’t receive the answer we all knew was coming. My family all just froze for a second. All we could hear steady breathing, but all of a sudden I heard crying. For once throughout this entire experience, I understood. I understood why they were crying, I knew exactly what was happening.

The color drained out of my face. My hands were shaking. I noticed that we all realized what just happened. My mom broke down. We were all going to go to Bangladesh for a month to be there for the funeral, but it was the middle of both mine and my brother’s school year, and it just wasn’t going to work out. Sometimes I wish that I was able to go there. I know that it would’ve made my mom happy to have some closure before we wouldn’t ever be able to see him again.

Fast forward three months. We were there to visit my grandfather’s grave. It was like, the night of April 23rd. There were many tears, there was sadness, but something I wasn’t expecting to see was the empty space next to it. The space was for my grandma. I suddenly felt this wave of reality. This really happens, we lose people, just like that, and everyone knows it. We even prepare graves for the people we know we’re going to lose. I felt lost and heartbroken. This situation got me thinking about the deaths that can happen around me. At that age I thought the people around me are going to be able to help me throughout my life. I honestly think everyone when they were younger, thought the world was revolved around themselves, that everyone will alway be there for you. I had finally realized that I was sadly mistaken.

Before this, I never truly realized how fast someone can be taken away from you. In my situation, you might’ve never been able to bond with them as much as you should’ve. To this day, I still can’t talk about the experience, as it always causes a shadow of guilt and sadness over my household. That is one of the many reasons I was hesitating to do this. I never ever want my mom to go through what she felt that night, but I know that I can’t protect her forever.

Losing someone you love will always affect you. The thoughts of the person can hit you at any time of the day. You might be in school, at work, and you might even be just doing nothing for all I know, but then the memories of the time it happened start coming back. You remember your heart dropping, your mind being full of thoughts that might not even make sense, but you didn’t care. It’s a rare time where people show just love and empathy, but it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t make the person you lost come back, but after a few years you stop thinking about them all the time.

You come to the realization that you still have everyone around you, loving, cheering, and appreciating every second they have around you. Soon, you learn to do the same to them, and you begin the process of healing. Sometimes, something might remind you of them, and you feel like you have to start healing all over again, and fall yet again through the rabbit hole, but you will always get through this. Every second you spend with someone, treasure it, because they might be gone…just….like…..that.

Raidah Tabassum. Seventh grade student in a gifted child program & an elected class president. US President educational award winner.

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