My grandmother passed away today at the age of ninety-six. She had been ill for the past six months and our family has been blessed to have the time to spend with her and to show her how much we loved her. As hard as it is to lose someone that I love so much, I feel blessed to have had her in my life for as long as I did. I also know that she has joined my grandfather, the love of her life, and they are together once more.
Saying goodbye to my grandmother has made me think a lot about life. So many of us are so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget how truly short our time on earth really is. How many of us step outside ourselves and really think about the person we are or the person we want to be? Do we strive to be present in the moment or do we spend most of our time chasing the mighty dollar? Too many days are filled by rushing from task to task without stopping to enjoy living. It makes me stop and think…our we leaving legacies that we could be proud of?
I hope that I am someone, like my grandmother, who has given more than she has taken. A person who has tried their best to help others, even when it has come with sacrifices. I want to be the type of person that people mourn the loss of and not someone who walked this earth with hate in my heart.
I’ve always said that it isn’t the objects you own or the money you have that people will remember you for when you’re gone, it is the memories and, ultimately, the love that you leave behind. That is truly what’s in a life.
Sometimes I sit and ponder how my life would have been without the rough beginnings. How it would have been to be a child who lived in a house without a father who came home drunk or a mother who didn’t die of cancer at such a young age. I sit and think about all the times that the police came to our house, the times that I brought my mother tissues as she sobbed, hiding between the wall and the bookcase as fighting filled the air. I got good at becoming invisible because that is what I truly wanted to be. I would go to school with children who had loving, stable homes and I would wonder if they were ever scared to shut their eyes at night like I was.
Living in such a volatile environment made me grow up fast, too fast. When other children were playing without a care in the world, I was monitoring what type of mood my father and mother were in and whether or not I needed to hide. When those children were thinking about going to dances, I was preparing insulin injections for my mother as she lie dying. As my classmates were going on dates I was trying to stay alive in the foster care system.
Where did my carefree childhood days go? Why did I never get to experience that normal life? I used to think that I must have somehow deserved to be given the hand that I was dealt, but I never could figure out why. I tried to be a good child, make everything alright and yet things never changed. I graduated high school with those children that I envied so much and as they were fleshed faced and ready to begin an exciting new chapter in their lives I felt as though I had already been alive for a thousand years. They hoped to get into a great college and I just hoped that I could make a good life for myself. One that was stable and without abuse. I felt so old.
The scars of my childhood and all the abuse are still present sometimes no matter how hard I try to put them aside. It is like they are engraved on the inside of me, lurking just under the surface, waiting for a quiet night so that they can haunt my dreams. I mourn for the list child who never really got a childhood. I try to be thankful that I learned courage and a strength that can handle any troubled times, but I still long to have been one of the little girls with the light of happiness in their eyes.