November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so I decided to talk about Lung Cancer and how it has affected my life.
For starters, almost everyone in my family (not really but kind of) smokes or has smoked at some point in their life, and i was exposed to a lot of smoking as a child because my dad raced horses and everyone smokes there. My mom has been smoking since high school, my dad’s mom smoked for a long time, my dad’s dad has smoked for at least 40 years, a lot of people who live on my block who I spent every summer night as a child smoked too. Needless to say, a lot of 2nd hand smoke has come my way.
Around January of my 7th grade year, my grandma (dad’s mom) was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. As a 7th grader I always associated cancer with dying, many people do. That night my dad told me was the first of four times I had ever seen my dad cry. After that day, we went every Sunday to visit her and spent the whole day down there. This continued for the rest of the school year and all of summer. Every weekend we could see her getting worse but I couldn’t bring myself to admit that she was dying. Around May she could no longer walk. My family went down to my grandma’s house for my 2 cousin’s graduation (one high school and one middle school). She couldn’t make it to the stands and refused to let people see her in the state she was in, so my grandpa, grandma, sister, and I watched my cousin graduate high school from the backseat of my grandpa’s car. When it came to my cousin’s middle school graduation, she couldn’t even make it out of the house so she and my grandpa stayed home and told her all about it when we got back to the house for cake and presents.
A few weekends later we were back at their house celebrating birthdays. My two cousins have birthdays on May 31st, June 2nd, and my birthday is June 12th. She couldn’t remember that I had hugged her and said goodbye. Being the brat of a 13-year-old I was basically refused to go back and hug her goodbye until I was forced into a hasty and unwanted hug on my half. I always wonder if she remembers this, because I do. And if I could take back one thing in my life it would be throwing a fit because I had to get out of the car and hug my soon to be deceased grandma. As the months passed on she got worse and worse. It was hard watching her have to be changed by my grandpa and seeing her lose hair and barely eat, but we always went. We always sat with her and watched her favorite western movies that we probably could recite to you. We watched them and we told her about our days hundreds of times, because we knew in a few short months or weeks she wouldn’t be there to ask us about our days.
In Mid-October, me and about 30 other 8th graders from my middle school went on a trip to Washington D.C. for the weekend. It was a really great experience and I enjoyed almost every second of it. Upon arriving home, my mom told me that my grandma was doing really bad and would die soon and that we would be traveling down to my grandpa’s the next morning when my dad got back. Well, we didn’t go that morning. Because on October 19th, 2010 at 6:54am my grandma died. She was surrounded by my dad and aunt and grandpa. My dad got home from my grandpa’s house that morning and told me the news and I then saw him cry for the 2nd time ever.
That day, my mom and I went shopping for what I would wear to the funeral just to get my mind off of what had happened. The next day I went to school to get my work for the rest of the week and everyone (kids not teachers) were yelling at me about how I had missed the day before (If more than 3 people missed the day after we got back from DC they claimed they would cancel the trip) and I Had to calmly explain that my grandma died and to shut the hell up but being polite about it.
The next morning, we drove down to my grandpa’s house where the hospice bed my grandma had been in was removed and replaced with her rocking chair she always loved.
The wake was among one of the longest days of my life. I refused to go and look at her because I knew I would break down if I saw her laying there, so peacefully and pain-free. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. i sat in the other room with my mom, sister and cousin and watched as people I had never met came and said how sorry they were for me, and even being surprised by some friends and neighbors who had come to pay their respects. it was so sweet knowing people cared enough to drive an hour and a half just to say they were sorry.
After many long and agonizing hours of waiting for the ceremony to begin, it finally did. I sat there next to my cousins and behind my dad and aunt and listened to the coroner talk about her. I don’t remember a word he said. All i Remember is that my cousin handed me a box of tissues because I was basically wailing in my chair. After the ceremony as I continued to weep, a person to whom I still am unaware of told me “you grandma was a great woman” which I then continued to cry even harder. My eldest cousin and I were definitely the closest to my grandma and were crying the hardest. My dad took us both up to see her one last time. She looked so beautiful and happy. There was no pain, no suffering, and no sadness on her face, Just peace It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.
The woman who had taught me how to make pot holders and other fun crafts, who had made the best chocolate milk in the coolest cups, who had let me eat chocolate frosting, who has let me stay at her house for 2 weeks where all we did was play with her dogs, watch TV, and garden, the woman who knitted beautiful sweaters, who introduced me to my favorite movie, and who loved me unconditionally was gone. My best friend was gone. She never got to see me grow up. I was still in my awkward stage and had yet to blossom into the woman I am today. She never got to see that and that still makes me sad to this day. But I know she’s here. I don’t believe in God, and I know she didn’t towards the end of her life, and I don’t believe in ghosts, but I know she is always with me.
To this day, not a day goes by that I don’t think about my grandma and miss her dearly. This past summer I got a tattoo in memory of her. She loved butterflies so much. She had butterfly puzzles and butterfly trinkets sprawled around her house. I got a tattoo for my best friend and it was the best decision of my life.
This one’s for you grandma. See you someday
Until next time