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This year, I lost my first grandparent. I’m very lucky to have made it to 26 years old with all four of my grandparents. Not many people can say that.
But this year, I dealt with what felt like my first major loss. When I was in fifth grade, I lost my aunt to breast cancer, but I was so young then, I’m not really sure I understood what was happening. I knew she was gone, but I don’t remember truly grieving. Sure, I was sad, but I don’t think I understood fully what death meant.
I spent so much time with my grandfather. There was nothing he loved more than his family. And I truly believe he would have done anything for us. He proved it time and time again. So naturally, when I found out he was taken to the hospital, I dropped everything to be there. I was there every single day. I think the hardest part was seeing my dad and his siblings completely heartbroken.
The night before he passed, I stayed with my brother to keep him company as he was on the nightshift (we didn’t want my grandfather being alone when he passed). While he got some shut eye, I spent time watching videos my grandfather took of me playing guitar for him on his guitar he gave me. I was pretty young in the videos, but I kept watching them over and over. When I left at midnight, I even listened to the videos of me playing on my ride home.
After he passed, I was upset. But at the same time, I was also really numb throughout the whole thing. I was able to keep it together. I have a younger sister who’s 16 years younger than I am so I tried to be a constant for her while both of my parents struggled with the loss – I wanted her to have a bit of normalcy.
When the service happened, I gave a eulogy. Public speaking is tough with my anxiety, but I knew my other family members would not be able to get through a speech like that. It wasn’t hard to write about him because he was such a constant in my life. He taught me to play guitar and my love of music overall came from him. He taught me how to drive and we spent hours on the road together. I spent countless weekends with him.
I held it together through the whole speech. The was well received. My family cried. I had people I didn’t know coming up to me and telling me how nice it was and one man told me he hoped his grandkids would speak about him in that way when he passed.
After he passed, I found myself picking up the guitar again. My guitar is my grandfather’s electric guitar he gave to me when I was around 13. Playing guitar feels like a way to connect with him even though he’s no longer earth-side. Music was one of our strongest connections. I loved playing for him and he loved listening to me play. He was so proud of me and always showing off my playing to his friends and my family.
It’s been three months since he passed. There are moments when I go to text him about my photography because I’ve gotten back into it lately after being in a funk. He loved my photography. He had one of my prints of Yantic Falls in his room that I had made for him. And when I was really into photographing birds, he was always telling me if he saw a cool bird. He was the reason I got so many great pictures of eagles in Norwich.
Everyone grieves differently. I know a lot of my family members are still having a hard time. I think what’s helped me personally is remembering all the good times I had with him and doing things where I feel connected to him. For some of my family members, that in itself is tough. But when I remember, I remind myself how lucky I was to get all the time and memories I did with him and how he’s no longer in pain.
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