2022 Scholarship Recipient

My Only Sunshine

“Okay, I’ll get ready now,” I replied to my mother on the phone. I knew this day was coming, but I still did not feel ready to face it. I dreadfully gathered my belongings. I waited for my mother on the driveway. She pulled up and I got into the car. She asked me, “Are you ready to say goodbye?” I couldn't answer her; tears just streamed down my cheeks.

As I got in the car, I knew I would experience one of the worst days in my life. It was a bright sunny day, a beautiful day, but to me it was gray and surreal. I now had to deal with something I didn't think was coming so soon, I had been in complete denial. I knew my grandmother had cancer; I knew she was sick. I knew her prognosis wasn't good, but I couldn’t get myself to accept that it was real. For the first time I was feeling the loss. I know many people who have lost a loved one, and I naturally felt sad for the survivors. I never really bothered to analyze how truly difficult and sad it is to deal with death. All this time I have only been swimming in the shallow end, never really understanding the depth of the deep end. I now have a new empathy for people who have lost someone.

The walk into the sterile hospital was quiet. We pushed the button for the elevator, and I could feel my heart beating in my throat, knowing this was the last time I was going to be here visiting. The beeping and bustling sounds around me felt muted as we neared the door to her room. I put on the rubber gloves and protective gowns and quietly walked in to see my grandmother lying still in her hospital bed connected to an IV with her eyes closed. I didn't know what to do or say. I felt speechless, helpless, like I was being choked by my fear and sorrow.

I was always very close to my grandmother. She would always come up from her house to make me breakfast, do my hair, and listen to music with me before sending me on my way to school. We would even make up handshakes while we waited for the bus to come. We sang songs together; our favorite was “You Are My Sunshine.” I can still hear her singing the song to me, and I cherish all of the song themed gifts we gave each other over the years. She had always been a very important person in my life, and I loved spending time with her.

As she lay in front of me, I held her hand, wondering if she knew I was there. I sang our song to her softly through my tears, and I felt a gentle squeeze on my hand. We were once again connected. Over the next few hours I watched her slowly pass as her breaths got more shallow and less frequent. I couldn’t help wonder what was next. Religion taught me that one day we would eventually be reunited, and I found myself suddenly questioning this belief. What if that is not true? Would she just be in the ground forever to decompose?

Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. I suddenly realized how important it is to cherish the moments you have with your loved ones. I will never forget all the things my grandma taught me and the love she showed me. Today as I walk outside, I feel the sunshine rays warming my face, and I know it’s her watching over me, as I live my life to make her proud. When I think of her, I have to believe that one day I will see her again.

Phillip Mathangani Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
EIN: 46-5338870 | ©2024