Like the title says, a lot can happen in 30 days. For example, I submitted my final assessment for the semester on 10 May. After that I took a few days off to rest, recuperate and recharge my batteries before diving head-first into studying for my exams, the second and last of which is on 14 June. So, that’s basically 30 days of non-stop exam study, and to be completely honest it’s felt like an entire lifetime, because a lot has changed in the past month or so.
My grandfather passed away on 22 May, 2017. My mum and my aunties took him into hospital for a check-up (he’d been complaining about pain in his stomach and lower back for a while), and from there … he didn’t come home.
My grandfather is the strongest person I know. In 2013 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and underwent several treatments and operations to remove it, which were thankfully successful. However, this came with a long period of recovery, and my grandfather never really was himself again.
In 2014, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was bad, really really bad. After several family meetings and suggestions from the doctor to ‘prepare ourselves for what’s to come’, they operated on him again, this time removing almost all of my grandfather’s right lung. He got through it though. He survived it. After that I was 100% convinced that my grandfather was destined to stay here with us.
My grandfather was a sick man since his first diagnosis. He relied on so much medication, had frequent check-ups and scans and tests done, but he was there for us. That was enough for me and my family. He celebrated Christmas with us, the birthdays of all of his loving grandchildren, and was always the first person to congratulate me on getting an excellent grade on an assignment.
So it didn’t occur to me, when my mum and my aunties took him into hospital ‘just to get him checked out’, that soon enough the doctors would find spots on his liver. That his kidneys were failing him. That he was secretly, and unbeknownst to all of us, dying.
I think he knew. I think he knew this was it for him, and I’m angry at him for knowing and not telling us sooner, but I’ve come to learn that there was probably nothing that anyone could have done anyway. He had Stage 4 cancer, again. It was full-blown. The doctors put a stint in his kidneys to keep them functioning, but from that procedure my grandfather developed pneumonia, to which no medication worked. Everything was failing, and in the midst of it all I didn’t want to come to terms with the thought of losing the man who called me princess every time he saw me.
Within two weeks, he was gone.
The hospital he was in was almost an hour away from our house, but mum, dad, my brother and I always made the effort to visit him 2-3 times a week.
The last thing he said to me was: “thanks for coming”.
The last thing he said to my mum was: “I love you”.
Like I said, my grandfather was a really sick man. In a way I’m happy, because I know he’s out of pain now, for the first time in 5 years. My grandfather was orphaned at only 3 years old, and again I’m happy in a way because I know that he’s with his parents now, meeting them again and getting to know them for the first time.
At least I hope you’re happy up there Pappou, because we’re not happy down here. But we will be. You left us all of your strength and my God do we need it now more than ever. But we’ll be okay.
Like you always said, we’ll “see you when we see you”.
Not even a week after my grandfather passed away, one of my major assignments was returned to us. I got 95%, the highest grade I think I’ve ever received at university. I bawled my eyes out, not just because it was one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had to do but because I couldn’t visit my Pappou and tell him about it. I didn’t get the chance to see the smile on his face when I’d tell him what I got, see the pure pride radiate out of him.
But in his own way, he knows. He knows what I can do, who I am and what I can accomplish.
I wasn’t completely sure that I was going to post about this at all, but I had to get it out somehow. My mum is sad almost every day, and angry every other day. My grandmother looks lost in her own home and I’m not even sure I’ve completely processed all of this either.
I think it’s important that we all keep going, whatever that means. Whether it means I bury myself in studying for exams 24/7, keep going. Whether it means mum goes back to work and stays there from 8am to 6pm, keep going. Whether it means my grandmother cleans the house 5 times over in one day just to keep herself busy, just keep going. None of these are bad things. In fact, we’re all dealing with this in our own way. One day it won’t hurt as much but for now all we can do is keep going, together, separately, whatever way works.
I’ll see my Pappou again, and I know my grandmother will see him again too. A lot can change in just 31 days, but the change isn’t always so bad.