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I lost my father at a very young age and since then I believed that death of a loved one is the most challenging thing a person can face. The sorrow breaks us down and the helplessness brings us to our knees. But watching my grandmother struggle through cancer, compound all those emotions. I wanted to help her, to ease her pain, to make her better but there was nothing I could do.
When I was a child, my mother and I lived in the center of the village. My grandmother’s home was a few yards away at the base of mountain. I didn’t have any friends and therefore I used to skip over to her place every once in a while. She was my first friend — my best friend. Time passed, I grew up and I moved to the city for higher education. But whenever I went back to my hometown, I’ll go to her place and spend as much time with her as possible. I joined the medical school in the city and I got an internship and a job and life became busier than ever. I almost stopped visiting my hometown anymore.
I was in my university when my aunt called to inform me that grandma was diagnosed with stage three cancer. The news left me in shock and I didn’t know what to think or what to do. My aunt asked me to visit her and spend time with her but none of this made any sense to me. All I knew was that grandma was the healthiest person I ever met. How could this happen? I called her doctors for any possibilities but they told me that there’s nothing more they can do, her cancer is too far advanced now. The news left me heartbroken. I didn’t want to believe it. She was not only good to herself but she was kind and generous to everyone she knew. How could she possibly be punished with this disease?
I wasn’t prepared for any of this to happen to her. I hoped against hope that she’ll recover because she has always been a strong and healthy woman. I video called my aunt to see my grandma and talk to her but upon seeing her I failed to even recognize her. The woman I knew was vivacious, bright, lively and happy and now I couldn’t even find a shadow of her former self. She was so weak and this cruel disease had already drained every bit of life out of her. She couldn’t even open her eyes.
She had a lot of heartbreak in her life. She lost her son a week before his wedding was announced. She lost her husband to early dementia and Alzheimer’s. She was still dealing with this loss when her second son died in an accident and after a month her third son died too. How much can life actually throw at one person especially someone as caring and kind as my grandma? She didn’t deserve to suffer like this in the end. She didn’t deserve cancer.
No one seemed to know how much time she had left, and seeing her in constant pain terrified me to no end. My grandmother was my idol, my hero and my inspiration. When I was a child, she used to bring me sweets and toys. She would always bring me extra sweets to share some with my classmates. She would tell me the stories of Ali and Hussain’s generosity and then she’d ask me to help the poor and needy. She always kept candies with her and whenever she’d show up in the town, all the kids would surround her for candies. She inspired me in so many ways and she groomed me and taught me to be a good person and be kind to others and I wouldn’t be half the person I am if it wasn’t for her.
Seeing her like this was incredibly overwhelming and incapacitating and I know how horrible I may sound but I wished it to be over. I couldn’t see her like this. And my only comfort was the belief that she will soon be with her family again and she will be in a better place-a place she deserve to be.
After four months of suffering, she died.
My aunt called me and the news left me paralyzed. I felt like everything in the world just stopped. I just wanted to shut down. My brother picked me up from hospital. He was sobbing but I wasn’t even able to bring myself to cry. I just sat in silence in the car on the way to village. Upon reaching my grandma’s place, I felt the worst gut-feeling. I could hear everyone cry and I wanted to run away from that place. My grandmother, with no shine in her eyes, was lying in bed cold and still.
I said my goodbyes and left. It was the last day I ever saw her and it wasn’t the way I had hoped. I’m struggling to cope with the fact that she won’t be here anymore. I’m writing this with tears streaming down my face. It hurts so much and I feel like I’m never going to get over this. I know it’s not my fault and I couldn’t have done anything to help her but I feel guilty and I wish I had spent more time with her when she was still well. I’m angry at life and I’m in pain and I have so many questions that have no answers. All I know is that my grandma deserved a much better life than the one that was handed to her.