April 20th changed my life.

Submitted into Contest #28 in response to: Write about a date that was so terrible you’ll never forget it.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction

April 20th, 2019 my son turned 10 months old, my father in law turned 35 years old, and my husband's grandfather passed away. That date will forever hold a place in my heart. Though I only knew his grandfather for 4 years of my life, I feel like I had known him my entire life. I loved going over to his house, he always listened when I needed to talk seriously with him, he was so kind and thoughtful, he could always make me laugh, he was the best grandfather that I had in my life. 

My husband and I got together in 2015, that was the year that his grandfather went to the doctors and found out that he had stage 4 colon cancer and liver cancer. It didn't quite affect me harshly, I had only known him for a few months. He was holding the news okay, he told all of his kids and grandkids the news face to face. He decided to go through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, having the radiation start first. 

The treatments took their toll on him, he grew weak and tired but he never let his grandkids or kids see him that way. He would always fake a smile and his energy to make us feel better about the situation. He started to lose his hair, so he decided to shave his head. Everyone was supportive of his choice and nobody made him feel bad about doing it. Though you can't really feel better about that situation. 3 months later he went back to the doctors for a checkup, the doctor gave him 6-8 months left with us. That news was a hard pill to swallow when he told us. I had grown closer with him within those past 3 months, my husband and I were over visiting all the time. 

My relationship with him was growing and I loved it! I loved sitting down and talking with him. He really listened to what I was saying, not that "oh yeah that's cool" kind of listening. He made me feel like he really cared for what I was saying. I was praying every night that he would get better, I think everyone was though. He accepted me as one of his grandchildren when he FIRST met me, while other family members of my husband's family did not. 

He passed the 6-8 months the doctor had given him, it was a miracle. He spent another Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family. We were all thankful for him to be with us still! In 2016, going back to the doctors once again, they told him that his treatments were making him better and fighting the cancer. That news lifted so much off of everyone's shoulders! My husband and I were so happy, we still went over there a lot to visit with him. You could really see him getting better, he wasn't as tired or sick looking, his hair started coming back, he was coming back to his regular self. He didn't have to pretend to be happy and okay anymore, he 

really was happy and doing his best to be okay. Everyone was happy and so thankful to have their father and grandfather. 

He had 2 more Thanksgivings and Christmas' with his family, we took family pictures so we could remember that holiday! In 2018, his doctors moved his treatments to Toledo due to his insurance changing. After much thought, he had decided to tell us that he was going to stop going to his appointments. We were all in shock, but the reason was very humble. He did not want to make his wife drive him all the way down there and sit there with nothing to do. She told him she was okay with doing that but he still was not going. It was something we all had to be okay with, even if we weren't really okay with it. After he stopped going to them, he took a 

drastic turn. He started getting bad again and faster than before. We all prayed that he would make it through another Thanksgiving and Christmas before his cancer took him. 

February 2018, I found out that I was 5 and a half months pregnant. My husband called his grandfather and told him, he was very excited. It would be his first great grandchild! Throughout my pregnancy he was very supportive and concerned about how I was doing and feeling. June 2018, our son was born. He loved him very much, my son grew very fond of him growing up. He got down on the floor and played with my son. He loved watching him grow up, I think one of his favorite memories with my son was getting to watch him crawl for the first time. I'll never forget how excited he was when he saw him crawling. The two loved each other. 

I was so happy about it. But in the back of my mind I knew that my son would grow up without him, his cancer would eventually take him from us. 

Towards the end of March in 2019, he fell and couldn't get himself back up. His son helped him up and he went to the hospital to get checked out. He was diagnosed with sepsis, and was in the hospital for about 4 nights. My husband and I visited him while he was there and he didn't look very good. He didn't look like himself. Everybody was upset about this and didn't know what to do. He came home, everyone was cautious and didn't want to think or say anything that could upset him. He still tried to fake a smile and be okay. But he was always tired and didn't want to eat very much. He lost a lot of weight. He was still our grandfather and father but he didn't look like him anymore.  

April 2019, hospice was called for him. My husband knew that his grandfather only had a few weeks left. This was a very difficult time for everyone, but we had to be strong for him since he couldn't be strong for himself. Hospice moved a bed into the living room for him, explained everything to his wife, he had to sleep and stay in that bed all the time. My husband and I came over one day and he wanted to talk to us. He wanted to tell us goodbye and that he loved us very much. I didn't cry, I was in shock and almost numb from hearing that. He knew he was leaving us very soon. Between the 5th of April to the 20th, he got very bad, he couldn't 

sit up alone, couldn't use the bathroom, couldn't eat anything just popsicles, couldn't talk just moan and gurggle. He started to have episodes that scared everyone. His wife got admitted to the hospital, so she had to leave

her husband's side. She got transferred to Toledo, everyone was distraught. She was going to be away from her husband while he passed. On the 19th, she was video chatting him ALL day, even though he couldn't speak to her, it was okay because she was with him. All of his kids and almost all of his grandchildren stayed at his house that night of the 19th, everyone took turns and sat by his side and just held his hand. I wanted to, but I couldn't get myself to do it. Everyone stayed awake late, it was around 4 in the morning of the 20th, we said goodnight to each other and went to bed. When his wife started crying over the videochat and said he needed to be checked on, his daughter rushed to him and he had passed. Nobody could control themselves, everyone started to cry. It was very hard. My husband closed his mouth, and eyes, and covered him with a blanket. I couldn't process what had just happened, I don't think anyone could. Hospice was called and they came and took him away. 

The funeral was arranged and it was hard for everyone. A few months passed, and in September 2019 my husband and I got married. It was hard to have him not there, I cried to my husband and I missed him badly. I got a job as a gas station attendant in October, my mind was clear from him. I thought about him here and there but not nearly as much as I used to, as a gas station attendant I saw a lot of faces. Faces that looked like his, everytime they would come in all I could think of was him. It made the work day drag and made it very hard to concentrate on my customers and duties. Customers like to tell me, how their lives are going without me asking, 

Some stories are just like his. They had to call hospice for their mom or someone else in their family, it brought back the memories from the night he passed. Working was difficult at times, and sometimes I would cry when I heard those stories, and the customers left. 

My son's first birthday was coming up and he wasn't going to be there and celebrate with us. Him being gone has changed all of our lives. Thanksgiving and Christmas came and they didn't feel like a special day it just felt like another day. They were the worst Thanksgiving and Christmas I have ever had. I get reminded of him almost everyday, and I still cry when I think that my son is going to grow up without a person that he loved very much. That he will never be with us for another Thanksgiving or Christmas. He was one of the strongest men that I knew in my life, him being gone almost feels like a dream at times. That I will wake up and he'll call asking how we are doing. But, I know that won't happen again. Seeing his pictures, hearing people talk about him, thinking the slightest thing that could remind me of him makes my day so hard. But I have to be strong for my husband and my son, I know they both miss him.

Now I am pregnant with our second child, that is due in March. Thinking about how this child will never meet him hurts my heart and makes me hurt for my unborn child. 

April 20th, 2019 will forever be a terrible date to remember from now and until forever.

-Madyson Johnson.

February 10, 2020 21:38

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