Write about the emotions you fear the most. – Laurie Halse Anderson

What I fear the most is to lose my loved ones.

Death is a part of human life, it needs to be accepted but I don’t feel ready to handle it yet. I lost my grandfather, my Dad’s dad mid-January, but I was far, in the U.K. Although my grandfather’s death was not sudden (he was suffering from so many illnesses, he was not able to breathe properly, had rheumatism, survived heart attacks and a heart surgery), to me it was sudden because I was not here. I cried my eyes out the evening my Mom told me, collapsed with sadness knowing that he accepted to undergo yet another surgery -acknowledging he probably would not make it out- but he needed to see me. He died a week before I got back. The last time he saw me was when I was in Turkey for a few days last June. So I didn’t see him so fragile, weak and exhausted, instead, I have a good image of him. I don’t know which one is better..

Now my other grandfather is in the hospital and I am here to witness it all. I was here to see doctors call my uncle outside of the room as my grandfather laid in the hospital bed surrounded by me and my Mom to tell that he’s probably got cancer which spread from the bones on his operated site for the hip implant to his bones on the other leg. I don’t know how I held myself and didn’t cry. Well, all the tears are rolling down my cheeks now.

My grandfather is 77 years old, ok, he’s lived enough, and compared to the little babies, small children being diagnosed with cancer, he is lucky. It is not cancer that I am crying about I guess, it is knowing that the doctors might be late to interfere. He is diabetic, he is not able to walk without crutches since his implant was taken out, he could not even straighten up on the bed yesterday.. When I was thinking that his body probably cannot handle narcosis if they need to cut open his leg, how can I get myself to think about chemotherapy? A side of me wishes that when they do the biopsy, they find out that they were mistaken, it was not cancer. However, the alternative scenario is that the operated site is covered in microbes which weren’t wiped out with oral antibiotics, and now they are resistant to those antibiotics already used for treatment and they are well-protected in biofilms, waiting for the next opportunity to disperse and spread. Either scenario does not change the fact that my grandfather’s exhausted body might not win the battle and that’s why I am crying.

Another reason to why I am crying is that when he is gone, my childhood will also be gone. The happy days that I worked with my grandfather in the garden .. The summer we made a tree house which didn’t have any walls but only had a base (it worked great because I was able to pick up plums while I read my science magazine for children). Times I told him I wanted to be stronger and be able to do pull-ups like him and he used detergent bottles as plaster molds to prepare dumbbells for me. The fact that I owe my DYI skills to him; learning how to use a hammer, screwdriver, even the saw! Trying to make my parents’ unfinished flat look prettier from the outside by building a guard rail for the balcony from wood and painting it together. I learned to love animals from him. My grandfather has always been kind to animals. After their dog, whom I cannot remember vividly as I was a few years old, was killed, my grandfather helped stray cats. After feeding a cat that visits your garden frequently a few times, they get used to you and accept you as their owner. So they had a few of those. I even assisted one (by just standing close, if I moved a bit, the cat got up and followed me) during her premature birth during a summer holiday. As a kid, it was touching to see how animals might also need support from humans during difficult times. My grandfather even broke the walnut shell for a crow who kept throwing the walnut from the roof 🙂 A few months back, my grandfather asked me ‘What happened Hazel? We used to spend a lot of time together.’ and I didn’t know what to say. I said ‘Adolescence happened.’ but that wasn’t the answer I wanted to give. I would still like to spend time with him cutting, nailing, painting but he does not have the strength, anything that requires him to kneel, bend down, walk a lot is risky. But I didn’t want to upset him because I know that without being able to do any of the things he used to do, he feels useless and trapped. If we sit to chat, the topic is politics and I cannot keep up, so it was easy to blame adolescence for drifting away. And then, I was not here. For 7,5 years.

When I got back to Turkey at the end of January and visited my grandparents, I saw that my plum tree, my hide-out for times when I was angry, the base of my tree-house, the branch-provider for our swings, my fruitful tree was gone, chopped off due to infection. My uncle was talking about tearing down the sheds my grandfather accumulated so many things, necessary and unnecessary, over the years. I painted the wall of one during one summer to disguise as the wall started to crumble.. And now my grandfather is in the hospital. It is like everything from my childhood is being wiped away.

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