Saturday. It was the weekend before finals and, like any good college student, I decided that Saturday would be my "rest day." Because my first final wasn't until Tuesday, I thought I would use my extra day on Monday to study. On Saturday morning, I even let myself sleep in until noon. I woke up, leisurely got dressed and decided to get a (late) brunch over at my dining commons. It was another beautiful day on campus. I walked back to my dorm and talked with my roommate for a while. As the conversation continued, I pulled Facebook up on my computer to show her a funny post I had seen the evening before. As I began to scroll, I noticed a post updated on my grandfather's wall.
It had been a year since I had last seen him. He and my grandmother decided to go back "home" to Nicaragua as it was their plan to retire there. Though I missed them, the business of college had distracted me and our conversations had been few and far between. I always knew my grandfather as a fighter. Twenty years ago, he had suffered a massive stroke that left him half paralyzed and yet, he continued to keep his head held high despite his body failing him. Though he could no longer solve physical puzzles, he taught himself how to complete ones online as well as learning the ropes on social media — such as Facebook.
I read the post that had been written only thirty minutes ago and suddenly, it was as if time had stalled — just like the movies. My roommate called my name but I only saw her mouth moving. Without thinking, I grabbed my phone, left the room into the lonely stairwell and called my dad. It took only one ring and before my dad could say anything, I asked, "Is it true?" He took a deep breath and shakily responded, "We didn't want to distract you from studying for your finals."
I felt anger rise through me as I asked the simple one worded question, "When?"
My grandfather had taken his last breath earlier that morning. The same morning I had taken time for myself to sleep in and appreciate the beauty of the day. Thinking back, I felt sick to my stomach and the day had been shattered. At first, I felt angry and confused. It had been so long since I had last seen him. Did I have a right to feel the loss of his passing?
My father is due to leave for Central America on Monday. Unable to move my finals schedule around, I will have to stay here on campus wishing I could go with him and say goodbye to my grandfather one last time. Grieving on-campus during the most stressful week of the quarter is hard. Trying to study and focus without becoming distracted by the constant pain throbbing in my chest as a reminder will also prove to be a challenge. Taking finals will be difficult for me for an entirely different reason this quarter: I ache to go back home, hug my father and console my grandmother. He would want me to take my finals, do the best I could and focus on my school, because he valued education so highly. Yet, I would give anything to have one last conversation with the strongest man I have ever known.
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