Living with no regrets

August 31, 2021 12:52 PM

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Photo of the author and her grandfather standing in front of her birthday cake. Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo of the author and her grandfather standing in front of her birthday cake. Photo courtesy of the author.

The living room. That is where it all happened. It was about 9 p.m. on a Wednesday in 2016 and I was getting ready for bed because the next day I had a PARCC test at school. It had been a long day. When I got home from school there was no one there. My mom told me my aunt was going to pick me up because she, my dad, and the rest of my family were in the hospital. 

When we got home, I asked for my dad, and my mom told me he was still at the hospital. Later that evening, I started getting ready for bed. As I walked out of the bathroom, my mom called me into the living room. She said she had to tell me something important. She told me my grandpa had just passed away. I couldn’t process what she had told me, and for the longest seconds of my life, the room was silent. I remember falling to the ground and crying on the floor with my mom. I felt so heartbroken. I cried for the longest time. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt so much anger, but everyone around me told me to have faith and “believe in God.” I remember blaming God for what he had done, or more for what he didn’t do. I felt so hopeless and confused. 

I went to my room and slept because even though I was devastated, I had an important test the next day so I had to brush it all off. I woke up the next day and noticed a lit candle with a picture of him on my kitchen counter. I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t know what to feel.  

My grandpa and I had always been super close. We did a lot together and he was the only other person besides myself that truly understood me. He lived on the floor below mine and we always spent a lot of time together. Even when he didn’t live near me I would go every Friday evening to his house and I’d stay there for the weekend. Knowing that our time together had come to an end broke me in so many ways. 

I never imagined anyone I loved dying. I had never experienced anything like this before. Every once in a while he would go back home to El Salvador and spend some time there and then come back. Although I always felt sad when he left, I always knew he’d come back. Now it was different, we had already missed Thanksgiving together because he had been in the hospital and we’d miss being together for Christmas, and now, every day for the rest of my life because he was gone, really gone.  

For a long time after this happened, I felt so much regret. The last time I saw him was the day before Thanksgiving, and I didn’t really acknowledge him. We both had been so busy that whole week that I hadn’t spoken or saw him much. I remember so vividly the first and only time I went to see him in the hospital. I was so sad and as I walked through the door that said “ Intensive Care Unit” my heart dropped. It took me so long to be able to walk through those big doors and then to the doors of his room. As I finally entered, there he was. Unresponsive, at the time I didn't understand why, and I still don’t know but he had experienced a stroke. I felt regret that I didn’t talk to him or had seen him when I was able to. Here he was in front of me but really he wasn’t there. It was just his body, his brain was pretty much shut down, he couldn’t talk to me. 

It’s been over four years and I still feel so much regret, but then I realize you can’t live life with regrets. I need to be able to live life at the moment, not disregard what happened but live life for him. He loved me so much, and I showed him how much I loved him every day he was around.  

There was so much I learned and continue to learn each day. To start, I thought the world kind of stopped for me during that time, but not really, the world kept going. Life will go on regardless and the only thing you can do is just live life in the moment, to the fullest. As cliche as it sounds, you just have to do that because our time is really limited, we need to spend as much time as possible with the people we love. Something else I realized is sometimes it does take emotional pain to realize the importance of cherishing the moments we have with people we care about. In the end, we shouldn’t live with regrets, being regretful takes up so much time away from your life and creates such toxic energy. Day by day, I'm realizing that no one is ever going to be prepared for a tragedy like this and I think I can start living with no regrets.

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