A child growing up without a grandparent happens to many people. But for me, my story is a little different. Losing someone is one of the toughest situations a person may have to go through. But I didn't experience the loss of a grandparent, like most people have to. Four short days before I was born, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. From what I have been told, he was super stoked for the arrival of a new grandchild, being the family man he was. But with this tragedy came a new beginning.

Every year on my birthday, it may be rough. While my family celebrates my birth, we also grieve over a man everyone loved and enjoyed. But how do I grieve? Am I even allowed to grieve over my own grandfather? How do I feel sad about his death? I never even met him.

You hear stories, you see pictures, and you have your family. That's how. I know that my grandpa left this earth for a reason, and maybe that was to make room for me. So yes, I am able to be sad over the death of my grandpa, even though I was never able to meet him. In my heart, I truly believe that he looks after me. From protecting me during that softball game when I was ten and got hit in the head with a ball to my car accident this summer when I hit a deer.

It's amazing that even after his death, he still continues to be a part of my life. They say I'm exactly like him in so many ways. How I laugh, how I am outgoing, my "sassy" attitude, sarcasm and much, much more. Hearing this is one of the greatest feelings. But growing up without him by side is one of the hardest things I've had to do. I don't get to have him as my best friend. He didn't get to teach me the "ways of the farm." He wasn't there when my grandma got cancer. He wasn't there for the birth of his great-grandchild. He wasn't there when I graduated high school. And he won't be there when I get married. The list of of what won't happen goes on and on, but each one is just him no longer being here in physical form.

He may no longer be here physically, but he is here spiritually. He is my guardian angel. And I am lucky enough to call that man my grandpa.

Dedicated to Donald Lee Werries: March 5, 1936 — April 2, 1997