I would like to consider myself a man of few regrets. By no means does this suggest that I have made no mistakes. I have made more than I would care to admit, but with every mistake I have felt there was something to be learned from it.
My one major regret occurred when I was 17 years old. My grandfather on my mother’s side had a stroke years prior, and he was bed ridden and unable to speak. As time passed, visits became more infrequent, and one weekend my mother asked me to go with her to visit him. I was 17 and at a point where family seemed less important than whatever sport or party I could rather be doing. I told my mom that I wasn’t going and proceeded to do whatever it was I felt was more important at the time. Soon after, my grandfather passed away. I immediately realized the unchangeable truth, that I would never be able to see him again and that I had missed the opportunity to say goodbye.
I had two remaining grandparents, both on my father’s side. During college and my time living in Albany, I would see them regularly and we would go out for dinners to catch up. Eventually I made my move to New York City and, in the way that distance affects any relationship, communication suffered. Calls and visits were less frequent and limited to special occasions. Two weeks ago, I received a call from my parents saying that something had happened to my grandmother, and she was in the hospital. Immediately, the old emotions of 17-year-old Ryan start re-emerging and I felt confused about to what to do. I ended up hopping on a bus to Albany and waiting outside the hospital for my father and uncles to arrive with my grandfather. We were hoping to hear good news from the doctor. That sadly was not the case. We learned that she had suffered a heart attack and, although she survived, the brain damage was too extensive and there was no chance of recovery. I sat alongside the people that raised me from birth as the toughest decision any loved one would have to make was made. I lost one of the most influential women in my life that day.
I was not the only one that lost someone that day. My father and uncles lost their mother, which is a pain that I wish never to bear. My grandfather lost his wife of 59 years and the true love of his life. Now as time goes on, I look to my grandfather who I know is strong and will push through this, but I worry as anyone would. I hope he realizes how strong he truly is, and how we all with miss her dearly, but it is important to keep her in our heart to make us stronger.
I said my goodbye to my grandmother that day in the hospital; I just pray she heard it.