“I carry your heart with me [I carry it in my heart]”

The 20th of October is sandwiched between two beautiful days, the birthdays of both my mother and father, however it still remains my most dreaded day. It is the one day I cannot seem to get through without tearing up, at least not yet anyway. I’m immediately taken back to the day I heard the news…when I collapsed to the ground screaming at the top of my lungs, waking up every girl in my dorm, feeling as though my ribs were caving in and I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I thought the news I heard was a lie, that in 5 days I would drive out to Palm Springs and everything would be as I had planned. I would run into my grandpa’s arms and tell him everything about my classes and first month at college; that he would walk into the living room trying to convince me to take the ear pillow which sent my mother and I into a fit of laughter two months prior.

Unfortunately, that was not what happened, I was plastered to the floor hyperventilating, feeling as though I couldn’t stand, breathe, or talk. I remember my mom and sister on the phone trying to get verbal confirmation of whether or not I was okay. The only word I could mutter was “no…no…no” corresponding to the fact that this couldn’t be happening.

My best friend carried me a mile and a half to the dining hall, as I clutched my teddy bear in my arms. She waved away anyone who tried to ask what was wrong, making it her duty to get me the sustenance needed in order to drive myself to the beach, my safe place. Today I will eventually repeat a similar process; trading in the beach to a view overlooking the city, the church where we had his services, or a lookout in Central Park.

Two years ago I had his handwriting tattooed on my back (seen above, the bottom line). It says “love to my caretaker” from a birthday card he wrote to me. Ever since this day three years ago I made myself numerous promises. I would dedicate my education to him, it was something we bonded over, and I always strived to make him proud in that department. I would continue to be the caretaker I was to him, to everyone else in my life. I would be as diligent as he was in regard to accomplishing his goals. I would maintain a character that would please him in calling me his granddaughter, or as he would say “kid”.

This day may make me emotional, but it has also made me stronger. Whenever I miss him I remind myself of my favorite E.E. Cummings poem and remember that I carry his heart within me. I remember my mom telling me how she heard someone say, in regards to grieving, “time does not heal all wounds, it simply passes”. We ourselves hold within us the power to heal. We gather the courage and strength to press on each and every day, remembering that life does not stop for anyone, no matter what happens.

It is incredibly difficult to lose someone you love, but I promise you will find a way to get through it. You may search for aid in books, songs, others, or even try to ignore it, but the first step is allowing yourself to feel your emotions. After you’ve processed all your thoughts and emotions you must take your first step forward. Whether it is doing something in remembrance or simply doing something for yourself, progress always begins with one small step forward.

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