Death is a frightening reality that many people attempt to ignore but nonetheless cannot avoid. It is an inevitable consequence of living. My biggest fear in life has been that one day I will be forced to meet my own demise. For years I struggled to avoid contemplating over this subject. A month ago, I was forced to face the reality of death as I experienced it first-hand with the passing of my grandfather. His death was sudden, unfortunate, yet enlightening. The day that my grandfather passed away he left me with a priceless gift. As I watched my grandfather die, less than a foot away from me, I realized that he had taken with him my fear of dying and replaced it with a peaceful understanding and acceptance of death.
I clearly remember the last minutes of my grandfather's life. I was sitting on the couch in my grandparents" family room next to my younger brother Jim. Inches away from me my grandfather lay on a rented hospital bed dying of cancer. My grandfather did not even look like himself as he lay in bed. He was not on any respirators or IV's, but the effects of his cancer had taken a serious toll on his physical appearance. Having lost most of his weight, his skin had tightened across his once plump, jovial face. His skin was so tight that you could even see the shape of his facial bones. His bright, blue eyes that once seemed to sparkle with light now seemed to be just a flickering glow. As I touched his once soft skin, I could feel that it had become flaky and dry. This no longer seemed to be the same man that had taught me and helped guide me through life. .
My grandmother, too shocked to cry, faithfully sat next to his side. She was there for him when he needed her most, never releasing his hand, as his deep breaths became heavier and more labored. I recall watching my grandfather slowly slip away and thinking in amazement of how much had changed in the past couple of weeks.