“HAPPY SEVENTY-THIRD BIRTHDAY, POP,” I excitingly exclaimed over the dinner table on January 9, 2007. With his big belly, shiny bald head, and eyes as blue as the sea, Pop simply smiled and said, “I never thought I would live to see my fiftieth birthday!” The whole table chuckled as steaming French onion soup and glistening steak awaited to be eaten. Through the course of dinner, I glanced over to my adorable Pop and truly felt blessed to have him. Pop was not only my grandfather, but a true companion and the core of my entire family. Therefore, I often referred to him as my family’s glue. He was the reason everyone went to every family function and stuck together through many hard times. How life would be without him? I never had to think of that because Pop was here to stay, for he promised he would be there when I walked down the aisle. After dinner, Pop and I flipped through the channels hoping to find a John Wayne movie, for those were his favorites. Nine o’clock came, and Pop was ready to journey his way back to 7213 Blank Street. After walking him to his truck, I received a hug as warm as the blistering summer sun. Pop’s hugs were one of the few things that were able to resolve every problem in my life for that short period of time. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Pop,” I told him as I kissed him goodbye. “See you tomorrow, sweetie,” he responded. I would see him tomorrow, right? Was it possible that Pop could not exist in my life? NO WAY! Pop would be there tomorrow for sure.
As bits of the sun radiated through my window shades, I was forced to rise from my cozy bed and get ready for school. A normal school day- tiring, boring, and perpetual. However, some source of excitement flowed through my body as I noticed my phone flashing from my book bag. After rushing to the bathroom, I opened my phone and realized that I had many text messages and missed calls from my cousins Hunter and Tim. This sight triggered knots in my stomach, for I automatically knew something was wrong. One by one, I nervously opened each text message. My eyes burned and twitched, for each text message read: Pop is in the hospital, and we do not think he is going to make it. I screamed out, “Pop was fine last night! This cannot be happening! What could be wrong with him?” I needed to know the answers to my awful questions. Shaking like the forces of an earthquake, I dialed Hunter’s number. What felt like five years was only three rings before Hunter dolefully answered his phone. I instantly asked what was wrong with Pop. Hunter only could reply by saying, “Call your mom.” At that moment, I knew what happened and unwillingly dropped to floor. Puddles of tears were forming all around me like the result of a severe tropical storm. I just pictured the state my mom was in and could not bring myself to hear her sweet voice broken by such horrible news. However, I had to justify my thought and built up enough courage to dial my mom’s number.
My assumption was unfortunately true. In the early morning of January 10th 2007, Pop died of congestive heart failure. I am unsure how I was able to carry myself out of the bathroom, for it felt like I was just severely slammed in the stomach and forced to drag bricks by my ankles. With my mind being clouded with questions and images, I lugged only my body into homeroom. I then packed my bag and traveled down the winding and cold stairs. These stairs put me in front of the colossal office doors. The thought of what I had to face after walking through these doors was unbearable and nauseating. Using all of my strength, I pushed through the two thick pieces of wood. My dad was there nervously standing with what looked like anxiety and fear kept inside of him. I noticed my dad still had his sunglasses on. This was the exact sight that sticks in my mind when my Maw Maw died nine years ago. I felt warm tears rolling down my face because I then knew I would never see Pop again. After the long ride home, we finally reached my house where I comforted, cried, and occasionally laughed with my many family members. I later escaped the crowd and found myself in my bed with hopes of regaining some strength. I listened to “Walk Away” by Ben Harper over and over again on my I pod. After an hour of crying, my eyelids began to close and I finally fell asleep to Ben Harper’s words, “Oh no, here comes that sun again. It means another day without you my friend.”
I once had the fear that my family would slowly fall apart after Pop passed away. However, this fear was completely dissolved once I woke up from my deep sleep and noticed my cousin Hunter laying in bed with me and holding my hand. I then knew my family loved each other too much to let us grow apart. As Barbara Bush says, “To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” This is the exact definition of my family during this time that seemed so unfair and depressing. Later that week, a planned engagement party for my brother was at my house. As I watched my family members walk in, I noticed they automatically looked for that special man to greet them with the warmest kisses and hugs. Everyone knew we had to be strong for my brother and get through the party. The party and everything else that followed seemed to never be the same without that blue-eyed chubby man there at all times. However, my family and I realized that with time come changes we must all accept. Pop taught us great family values, life lessons, and the true meaning of love. Without even knowing it, he instilled the power to keep a family together in all of us. Through prayers, I talk to Pop everyday in hopes he will guide me through everything. I realized his death did not mean he would not be there through every chapter of my life. My pop, a true best friend and my family’s glue, would watch me grow up into the lady he had always hoped I would be.