On November 23, 2008 my grandpa passed away.
A couple weeks ago, I recall coming home from work after the usual slow-paced night at Jimmy John’s. The last few days were a complete blur. It had been just days after we had received the news that my grandpa had passed away. I had gone without really speaking about what had happened, how I felt, or even thinking about how to deal with the situation. I felt numb.
Walking downstairs to let my dad know I was home, felt particularly strange that evening. I entered the doorway and immediately felt the mood of my atmosphere change. The air was like ice and there was no noise to be found. My father sat gazing into the computer with a lonely look in his eyes. His face was completely sullen. His skin hung loosely from the frame of his face. The large circles and redness around his eyes indicated that he had not gotten sleep for at least a few nights. He rubbed his face and turned towards my direction. The instant I saw the glistening in his eyes, my heart sank.
My grandpa lived over 6,000 miles away. He came from Nigeria once about every five years. My father had not seen him for a few years. But that distance did not destroy the years of love my father had for my grandpa, nor did it lessen the pain when he passed. You see, it wasn’t really my grandpa’s death that hurt me the most. Grandpa Eregbu had been sick for quite some time. It was more so my father’s remorse, now that my grandpa was gone. My dad never cries. Seeing him in such a distraught state broke my heart and made me realize the magnitude to which one person’s life has on another. There is a certain comfort in knowing that someone, anyone, is around. Nobody likes to feel alone. Sometimes, the lack of another person’s presence is simply devastating.
I believe that every life counts. A smile or compliment from a complete stranger can turn another person’s whole day around. A single individual’s life alone may move many. Such examples are found throughout our own history: Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – all prominent people whose lives greatly influenced others. Even today, their lives are still celebrated through stories and recollections of them that remain.
Though our lost ones cannot physically be with us, their legacies and memories can. Memories are the single most precious thing we can hold. They can’t be taken away and they can be kept close in our hearts. My favorite memory of Grandpa Eregbu was when he sang with my grandma. It filled him with so much joy and always put a smile on his face. The moments we share- the trip to the grocery store, the drive to Aunt Martha’s for the holidays, the little kiss, and the big hug- I believe that they should all be cherished because we never know when they might be our last.
I believe that life is precious and it should not ever be taken for granted. Life is not promised and it can be gone at any given moment. Life is a gift. A gift is a privilege. Treat yours with love and care.