Even after nineteen years, the saddest moment in my life brings tears to my eyes. I am twenty-four and right before I turned five I lost the most important person in my life. My grandfather, my Turtle, my Papal.
It was rolling on midnight as the young girl stared out of the window of the car. It almost seemed surreal to her; more like a sick, cruel joke than anything that could be real. And if it was a joke, of course, it would be better than reality. The only kind thing her mother ever did for her was drive her seven hours to see her grandfather one last time. For the end of October it wasn't chilly, although it rarely seemed cold in Georgia to her. She knew what was going on but she didn't even feel like she was in her own body anymore. Surely she was going through someone else's tragedy and in the morning she would wake up in her bed and everything would be fine.
Everyone around her spoke in hushed tones about how wonderful a man he was, how loved he was, and how much he'll be missed. The next couple hours seemed mashed into mere minutes and when it was her turn time stopped altogether.
At nearly five years old death was a very new concept to her. She leaned over the edge of the casket and gazed in upon the loving face that she once knew. Now it was cold, pale, and lifeless.
"Wake up, Papal, why are you sleeping in your suit?" She asked as she shook his arm. She didn't understand why he wouldn't wake up, why he wouldn't respond to her. Even when he played around she could see his smile behind that scruffy mustache of his.
A soft hand squeezed her shoulder in a comforting manner. She looked up at her grandmother's tear-stained face. It was as if any nightmare she could have dared to dream hit her at once. Turning back to him, she felt her face grow hot and the tears welled up.
"Grand-...pa..." the young child whispered before the sobs took her. She hugged the edge of the casket, refusing to be moved as she waited patiently for everything to make sense again.
Of course, time can not be reversed. The man will never be forgotten. And the pain will never truly heal. Nineteen years later a saddened, grown woman sheds tears over his lost soul. In another nineteen years, she'll still shed tears. He was the only person who ever made her feel safe and loved. And even at such a young age, life opened her eyes to the cruelty but reality of the world around her.
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