I wasn’t down at the beach for our annual family vacation but a few hours before my mom told me she needed to talk to me. Tears in her eyes, I couldn’t imagine what she needed to say. We walked out to the deck and sat down. I braced myself for the absolute worst. For the past few months, my grandma, my Mimi, has been dealing with minor medical issues. She felt tired, out of breath, loss of appetite. She had told me she was losing weight. When I questioned what she was eating, she said she hasn’t been eating much. She would either forget, or just couldn’t stomach anything. I knew she was going to the doctor off and on, trying to figure out what was causing all of these problems. After a month of testing, she was diagnosed with emphysema. Immediately, I tried to pull all of the medical knowledge out of my head. Thinking of treatment options, prognosis. I connected all the dots in my head. I used Google to connect all of the dots I couldn’t on my own. I would cycle between moments of relief, reading all the treatment options, to moments of hopelessness, realizing that my Mimi is nearing the end of her life. She has always taken care of herself. Growing up, she wasn’t the grandma who spoiled us with candy and treats. We were told the importance of taking care of ourselves and taking vitamins. I learned how to eat a balanced diet, and stay active. The women in our family live a long time, and she didn’t want to be any different. I still haven’t gotten over the shock that this is happening to her. I cried for a long time with my mom. We talked for over an hour about how this is going to affect her and our family. My mom lives with Mimi, so she has automatically assumed the role of caring for her. She’s watched firsthand the progression of her sickness, and she will continue to witness it. I feel guilty for not being closer, not being able to help out if she needs me. I’m thankful that the rest of my family lives so close together. Mimi has taken care of us all our entire lives. Anything we needed, she was there. And now its our time to be there for her. When my mom and I were done with our talk, I had cleaned myself up as much as possible before walking back into the house. It didn’t help. I opened the door, and Mimi was sitting right there. I immediately began crying again. I’m not naive. I know there will be a time when she won’t be there. I know she can’t live forever. But I’m not ready. I’m not ready to handle my life without her. She has been a driving force for me, pushing me to succeed in life. I’ve always had her cheering me along. She hugged me in that moment and said “just be all you can be”. She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. She is sick and all she is worried about is her family. Talking to her, she told me she hoped to have at least 4 more years of life. In those 4 years, Heather will make her a great grandmother, I will graduate nursing school, and Jaden will graduate high school. She is a fighter, so I hope she is able to get more than 4 years. She’s talked about death for years, making jokes about what her funeral will be like. I always thought maybe it made the idea of death easier for her to handle. But I think she is actually scared now. I don’t think she is ready to die, or miss out on any milestone in our lives. If it was just her, she wouldn’t fight. But I know she is fighting for us. She gives me an immense amount of strength. I feel more motivation to do well in my life, in nursing school, in becoming half the woman she is. I feel like its only right to fight for her too.

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