Saying goodbye

I got a call from my dad today. My maternal grandfather, who was hospitalized a few nights back, had just been taken off life support. His health had been in a decline for quite a few years already, and now his condition has taken a turn for the worst. This time doctors gave the family a decision to make. It was a very tough one.

Do we let him go? Or do we keep him on life support…maybe prolonging his suffering? He was very old, and very frail. My mother’s sisters, my aunts, finally made the painful choice of letting my grandfather go. Throughout the day, all the relatives had came, one by one, to pay him their last respects. To say goodbye.

I went down to the hospital after work today to see him for the last time. He was in the ICU. I didn’t cry when I was beside his bed. I looked at him, taking in everything around me. The room was very sterile, very impersonal. The only sounds filling the room was his irregular breathing. Every breath was difficult. I just felt a little stunned.

The rest of the relatives were scattered outside the ICU. Waiting. There were many swollen, red eyes…

After half an hour…. the nurses shifted him to a normal ward. The time is drawing near. This was where he would lay.. until the very end. It was at this point where my lips started trembling, tears started welling up. I tried to control my emotions. But I couldn’t stop the floodgates that’d finally decided to open. I could only turn away quickly. I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. So I walked to a corner and just stood there quietly, leaning against the solid cold wall. I took a lot of deep breaths, letting the tears run freely, riding past the worst of it. Eventually it got better. And I rejoined the rest of my relatives.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. But I want very much to believe that my grandfather is now in a much better state, where he is free from pain, free from the burdens of old age. He may not remember me anymore. But I will always have him in my heart.

He left us at peacefully at 330am this morning.

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