When I awoke one morning, there was a peculiar feeling in the air which I didn’t like. It was early in the morning, the sun wasn’t even out yet when my mother told me something that would change my perspective on things forever. Every couple of months or so on the weekends my family and I would visit my grandparents in New York. On those days I would wake up to the sound of my father’s razor when he was shaving his short beard to get ready to head out of the house.
It just so happened that I was always planning to go somewhere with my friends whenever we had to go but my father would always tell me, “Nicholas, were heading out soon so get dressed and get a couple things you want to bring with you.”
Each visit was the same, just talking about things that had happened since we last saw them, how our weekends were, etc… I would barely talk at all and only respond when my grandfather asked me how I was doing in school.
Even though I brought some of my belongings with me, I would always get bored quickly while I was stuck sitting around listening to my parents and grandparents chatter. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I was home and not stuck here.” Soon enough, I would come to change the way I thought about that but at the time I didn’t think much about it. For the most part it was just my father and grandfather talking so my mother and grandmother mostly stayed quiet. My mother wasn’t much of a talker unlike my father and she’s been like that for a long time always saying a few words or resting her head on her palm thinking. After dinner and a great deal of talking we would say our goodbyes and start heading home.
This is how our visits went on for a few years, however, one day my father told me that my grandfather had called and said that my grandmother had gotten ill so they had to go to the hospital. I knew that my grandmother was a strong person who would be able to surmount this issue and come back home perfectly fine, or so I thought… I didn’t think much about what my father had said and went on with my life as usual going to school, hanging out with friends, etc… A week after my grandfather had called we started visiting the hospital monthly to see how my grandmother was doing. My grandfather would give us a terse description of how she was doing whenever we visited. Every time we entered the hospital room, she would seem really happy to see us and we’d have our usual conversations like before but it felt more tense in the room. After a while, my grandfather would lead us to the cafeteria and we’d eat in silence. After some time of visiting I’d look out the giant glass walls of the cafeteria and see how nice it looked outside and the gentle breeze that rustled the trees wondering when she would get better to enjoy beautiful days like this.
During the first few weeks her health fluctuated, getting worse than better, but in general is was the latter of the two. At this point we didn’t know what to do except wait and see what happens. My grandmother had to go through a lot of chemotherapy, however, it didn’t seem to be helping at all. As time went on, there were less visits because she was too sick for us to come over as much as we did. This is when thoughts started coming to me and I felt like I should have done more for my grandparents whenever we visited. I went to bed one night hoping that everything was going to be alright.
The next morning, around 3:00am I heard my parents talking but I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying. Then my dad left the house leaving me thinking that he just had to go to work early. I drifted off to sleep a little longer before I had to go to school and around 5:00am I woke up again and all the lights were on upstairs. I went to my parents room finding my mother was awake and on the phone crying. I asked her, “Is there something wrong mom?” and she replied, “I’m sorry I have to tell you this Nick, but your grandmother passed away this morning a little more than an hour ago.” I was frozen in place and felt as if everything around me had collapsed. My mother brought me into a hug and I tried to hold everything in but it wasn’t working. I remorsed the fact that I wasn’t fully enjoying the time with my grandmother and just hoping that I would be able to go home soon every time we visited them. I found out later that morning that my father had left because my grandfather had called the house phone asking my father to come quickly. However, before he could make it to the hospital my grandmother had passed. I stayed home from school that morning sitting at my desk thinking over my life from the past few years.
A little more than a week later there was a wake and a funeral for my grandmother and everyone from both sides of my parents families, friends, etc… came to the funeral. A few minutes into the wake I pulled out my violin to play for her one last time because my father had requested that I could play something on the violin. It would be the last time she would be able to hear me play the violin. After the wake, the actual ceremony started and everyone was silent throughout the entire time.
Now I try to appreciate the time I spend with my grandfather when I go over to his house and now whenever I sit at the kitchen table I’m reminded of the recently empty chair that my grandmother used to sit in. I regret diverting my time to thinking about playing with friends instead of valuing the time I spent with family. My grandfather is now alone in the house and whenever we visit we mourn the loss of my grandmother at the cemetery. Since the funeral the chatter in the living room seemed restrained but over time that feeling had slowly passed. I can no longer see her face brighten up as we step foot into the house or simply converse like we used to. This is the time I truly learned the meaning of regret.