“Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did”

As many people have, I have lost someone in my life that was very important to me. My grandpa, my hero, my best friend, and someone I will never forget. From the day I was born, until the day he was taken from us, we had a bond that was unforgettable. We bounced positive energy off one another, and always had the best of times. He was a stable part of my life, as my parents got divorced when I was 2, and everything felt unbalanced. He and my grandma showed me consistency, when I really needed it.

From playing waitress, and police officer when I was 5, to beating him in our last round of golf that we played together when I was 22, the memories have been nothing short of amazing. He was able to watch me get through high school, and graduate nursing school, where I remember his eyes filled up with tears out of proudness after I received my diploma. It made me feel so happy that I had made someone so important in my life, so proud.

Not to get into details, but since his passing, our family has never been the same. It’s crazy how things can change in an instant. People
forget the importance of family and what it really means. You stick together through the good and the bad. You communicate. You love. You forgive. I’m breaking out the good ol “urban dictionary” definition of family⬇️

A group of people, usually of the same blood (but do not have to be), who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other. Not to be mistaken with relatives sharing the same household who hate eachother. REAL family is a bondage that cannot be broken by any means.

Whether you agree with that definition or not, it gives you the big picture of what a family is.

I had just started dating my now husband, before my grandpa had gotten sick. He was able to meet josh multiple times, and raved about how he “was a keeper”. My grandpa was overly impressed by his choice of clothes, shoes, and admiration for his granddaughter. I recall one night, him telling me “he’s the one for you”. I think during the time my grandpa was in the hospital, josh and I went a good 6 weeks without seeing each other. Josh waited and respected the time I had dedicated to my grandpa, because he knew the importance. I tried to be there everyday and be in contact with his doctors for the “medical talk”, because if your not in the medical field, it sounds like complete gibberish. ⬇️ my grandpa wasn’t wrong 😍❤️

63 days is how long he was in the hospital, and eventually we made the decision to take him home on hospice. For me, being a nurse, I knew what this meant. I decided to step up and take the role of his nurse during these final stages of his life. It was the least I could do, after the MANY years he gave to me. My goal was to make him as comfortable as possible, to make him pain free, and have him in the comfort of his home with family surrounding him.

This was the MOST DIFFICULT thing that I have ever experienced. Sure, I have dealt with patients dying in the hospital, and it was hard, but at this point I was not prepared to take care of my grandpa, my best friend, until his final moments of life. But I did it. I knew my family needed me to step up, I knew he needed me
to step up, so that’s what I did. Looking back, I have no idea how I did what I did, but I guess he gave me the strength that I needed to be there for him like he needed me to be.

Death is a very crazy thing, especially when someone is in a slow process of death. Obviously if someone has trauma and dies quickly, there are not the long drawn out effects that you deal with in comparison to someone who is home on hospice, when the only support left is comfort care (I know there are exceptions to this when dealing with trauma). Basically, providing pain medication, making them comfortable and waiting for their last breath. They go through a ton of stages, that are mostly scary, for example “the death rattle”, where it literally sounds like they are drowning.

I remember a few days before he passed, he was in the ICU before bringing him home on hospice. Towards the end of the 63 days, he was very un oriented, and could barely answer simple questions, or remember who some of us were. On one particular night, I sent my grandma home to get some rest , along with my dad and uncles and I just sat with him. Out of no where he had a “burst of energy” and was completely 100% alert and oriented. We talked for a good 3 hours, where I was able to have him tell me stories of his youth, his marriage with my grandmother, his opinion on current politics ( haha he loved this one), and my relationship with josh.

The most important question I had for him though was, “are you afraid of dying?” Some people wouldn’t be this direct but it was something I needed to know, and something I knew he would be honest with me when answering. He answered, “No, Jessica”, I know it’s my time to go, and I am not afraid.” I was shocked at his response, but it also gave me a lot of peace in my heart. After this night, we did not have a solid, alert conversation ever again.

Hospice run down – this link gives you some
Information on what to expect in the final
Days or weeks of a persons life, and I cannot deny the accuracy. Here is a quote from the article regarding the last conversation I
had with him.

“Many families share stories of a sudden burst of energy about two days before the death of a loved one. Commonplace are the stories where the person slept most of the day or was confused or disoriented (confused about where they were, date, time, other people) and then suddenly was very alert and talkative. They may ask to visit with friends and family, or their appetite may spike and they might even ask to have a favorite meal. As with all the other experiences at the end of life, this phase is unique to each individual. While not everyone will experience such an obvious burst of energy, most will go through some noticeable changes.

After bringing him home, it was a couple of days before his passing, and again this was very hard and emotional, but he passed with our whole family by his side, we watched him take his final breath, and I listened with my stethoscope to confirm he had moved on to his next chapter, whatever that may be.

(My granddaughter ring that he wanted me to have.)

I think the hardest part about him being gone is the unknown. Is he in a beautiful place, looking down on me, seeing the mother than I have grown into being? Will I ever see him again, when it’s my time to go? I suffer from the fear of the unknown, although I’m working on having more “faith” in the things I believe. It’s a work in progress, and I’ll get there.

Last night, I called my dad up around 8pm and asked him to meet me at the driving range. (My grandpa, was obsessed with golf and this was one of the activities we did together frequently, I remember that last time playing, I beat him, and he bragged to ALL of his golf buddies that his granddaughter beat him…. such a proud moment).

Anyways, last night I was just thinking about him more than usual, and decided to go to the range and hit some balls in his honor. I didn’t have my clubs with me, so my dad brought my grandpas set. I breathed in the beautiful night air , and thought about him looking down on me, and praying that he was in that moment with us. I felt like his presence was with me. It was refreshing and gave me a sense of anxiety relief that I’ve been dealing with.

Nothing can make losing a loved one any easier, but having memories that will last forever can make it a little more tolerable. The time we had together will never be forgotten, and I cannot wait to teach my daughter all about her great grandpa and the huge impact he had on her mommas life.

RIP Superman, I love you forever and always.

❤ Jess

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