As a child, I never really experienced the death of a loved one. I wasn’t born when my mom’s mother died when my mom was only 16. My mom’s dad died 10 days after my first birthday so I don’t remember him much; all I have are the stories my mom told me - like how my mom went to a funeral and left me with my Poppy and when she got back, she found a pork chop bone under my pillow that my Poppy was letting me chew on.
Growing up, no one in my family had died that I was extremely close with until September 30th, 2011. I had recently gone to live with my dad and my grandparents and Uncle Al. My family has struggled with alcoholism on both my mom's side and dad’s side and I was well aware of it, but I didn’t know just how bad it was for my uncle. He could barely keep a job, all he seemed to do was stay in his room and only come out if he was hungry or if it was a holiday and family came over. That was my first loss I experienced and that I knew about.
My uncle drank so much, every day in fact, that when he tried to stop on his own, his kidneys and organs had shut down because he was that dependant on the alcohol and his body couldn’t handle being without it abruptly. My uncle was admitted to Albany Medical Center on September 25th, 2011, whilst being put in a medically induced coma then later was put on life support because he suffered two seizures as doctors tried to bring him back from the coma.
My uncle was one of the smartest, brightest people ever, you would never know the demons he struggled with unless he told you. My uncle died on September 30th, 2011 at only 38 years old. That was the first loss I ever experienced and I still can’t believe it toda. I feel as though one day he’s going to come back through the door saying, “I’M HOME” with a big smile on his face and I’ll hear his corny jokes and his contagious laugh.
Almost exactly a year later, I lost my grandpa to emphysema - he had it for years, but it got progressively worse really fast. He used to be able to drive and get me from my moms so I could go to my dads for the weekend, go to the casino with my grandma, and actually get up and participate in normal people activities even with an oxygen tank. As it got worse he could barely get up out of his chair in the living room. One night he got up to go to the bathroom and tripped over his oxygen cord and fell and hit his head, he hated the hospital and refused to go until my grandma and dad convinced him to go. After that it went all downhill. He couldn’t get out of his chair and it got to the point that Hospice had to be called and he had a hospital bed in the living room where he slept and ate when he actually did eat.
In my grandpa’s final days, he started foaming at the mouth and saying “I can see Al.” I will never forget the last words my grandpa said to me, they were “you be good for daddy, I love you and don’t you ever forget that.” On my grandpa’s last night, I was in my room showing my brother's girlfriend at the time all of the school clothes I had gotten when I heard my aunt scream, “NO please come back” and crying. I ran downstairs to see what the commotion was hoping it was a mistake and he’d come back.
I went downstairs to my grandpa gone and my grandma crying. I couldn’t believe it, my second best friend was gone. How am I supposed to survive? Both of the people I went to talk to about anything were gone. Five and six years later I still dread September 30th and September 9th. I miss them tremendously everyday and still can’t fathom life without them. Everyone says it gets easier, but from experience, it doesn’t get easier - you just adapt to the changes and get used to your loved ones not being there.
If you’re still grieving years later, it’s okay, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re grieving too long. Always say I love you to your loved ones because you never know when their last day will be.