As I sat in that green leather seat with a crumbled Kleenex in my hand, my head leaning on my uncle’s shoulder, a sweatshirt and sweatpants poorly tucked into my old and worn Ugg boots, my grumbling stomach aching from the lack of food over several days, and a steady stream of tears falling down my cheeks, I stared out the window of the hospital waiting room, watching the sun rise. I heard nothing but distant ambulance sirens and muffled voices speaking words that didn’t mean anything to anyone. I felt an arm around my shoulder attempting to comfort me, smelled that hospital smell on my hair and skin, a dry mouth, and felt nothing but cold. Coldness all around. There was only one thing that brought me comfort early that morning, and that was watching the sun rise in its rainbow of colors. And it was in those colors beaming around that spherical shape quickly rising in the sky, that I felt God’s presence right there in that waiting room with me.
Two weeks prior to this early morning, my grandfather went into cardiac arrest for the first time.
On this particular morning, I was awakened by my sister in the middle of the night with news that he had once again gone into cardiac arrest. He had suffered from heart failure for many years, but always seemed to make it out of the hospital smiling, despite the procedures he had gone through. This time he didn’t make it.
After two weeks in the hospital, and two days after his second cardiac arrest, he passed.
I woke up before the sun on Tuesday morning, January 19, 2016. I knew the time was coming. I had school that day which was a 45 minute drive away, but knew that I wanted to see my grandfather before I went. I was at the hospital at 6:00 in the morning, sitting there with my sweet grandfather. Someone who had sat with me so many times as we would share stories, talk about life, and he would ask me many questions. He would always take my hand when he would sing to me or when he was speaking to me.
Then there I was, in the hospital staring at his face through a film of tears. Holding onto his hand as tears clouded my vision, for it felt like he was hardly there with me in that room. I asked for a moment alone with him, and I talked to him, made promises that I would finish school and get a good job and work hard, just as he always did. And it was in that moment when my fingers clung to his beautifully wrinkled hands that it felt as though we were back in his living room, dreaming together and laughing as he told me for the hundredth time that day that he loved me.
I told him in Lebanese that I love him, kissed his forehead, and left. That afternoon I received the phone call while I was in class, that he passed. I walked out of class, and wept in the hallway, hoping and praying no one would walk by and see me.
The next two days were a blur. At his funeral my siblings and I sang the mass. I was reluctant about singing, as I could barely speak without a tear falling down my face. However, it was when we were all singing a particular song with these lyrics, “Alleluia Holy, are you Lord God Almighty. Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb, Amen” that I suddenly felt God’s presence there with me, just as I had a few days prior when I was in that waiting room on that painful morning. And it was in that moment that for the first time in weeks, I felt like everything was going to be okay. It hit me that now finally after all these years, my dear grandfather would no longer be suffering. He was going to finally be able to walk the stairs of Heaven without running out of breath due to his heart condition like he had for so many years. He was finally free from that pain, and happy. He brought more of an impact onto my life than anyone ever has, and it was in that moment I realized that it was my turn to bring an impact on as many lives as I possibly can, just as he had for all 85 years of his life.
And now every time I sing, I sing for him. Every time I speak, I speak for him. And every time tears fall from my eyes missing his presence, I sing and I pray, and it is in that, that I truly feel him there with me.
I remember thinking in January of 2016 when my grandfather left this earth, “where is the handbook or guide for how to deal with losing someone so close to your heart? Why didn’t they teach that in school?”
It was in time that I came to realize that after losing someone special, only YOU know the exact relationship and love that you held with that person. There are no tactics on ways to heal from that. Hugs, kind words, and flowers are nice, but they never repair the heart. I realized that it is in God’s timing alone that our loved ones leave, and it is in our trust in God that we heal. It is in honoring and living the way our loved ones would want us to live, that comfort then comes.
A year ago on January 19, 2017, I was driving to my grandmother’s house after visiting the cemetery and I was involved in a car accident that resulted in some injuries and a totaled car.
For the following five months, I needed physical therapy. It was in that time that I wondered what the odds were that two very life changing events happened on the same exact dates, just one year apart. And it was in that time that I heard God. I heard Him calling me to trust in His timing, and to trust that this, just like my grandfather passing, was going to make me a stronger individual, and to learn to love others and cling to them, for we truly don’t know when we will lose those we hold closest to our hearts.
This year will mark two years since I said goodbye to my grandfather, and one year since I was in a car accident. Only God knows what will occur on this Friday, January 19 of 2018, however I have plans. I have plans to visit my grandfather at the cemetery and sing to him. I have plans to drink a half of a cup of coffee in the morning before leaving, as that was always what he would tell me he was going to do. I have plans to go to work and smile and show others love and kindness, as my grandfather always showed me. And I have plans to pause and thank God. Thank God for giving me another year here on this earth. For giving me nineteen years with my grandfather, as some people don’t even get that amount of time with their loved ones. And I’m going to sing praise and glory to our Lord, for He always provides. He always allows things to happen in His most perfect timing, even if it doesn’t feel so at the time. And I have one more plan. I plan to dream as I reflect through all the beautiful years I was given with my grandfather. I dream of the beautiful day that we will once again be reunited, singing together once again. Laughing together once again. And embracing once again. Until then, I will be here on this earth spreading all of the love, kindness, happiness, and generosity in his honor, and I have plans to do just that for years to come.