Sixteen years later, my memories of that day are still here! I will never forget this day for as long as I live and every year it still doesn’t get any easier. March 20, 2000, is still the saddest day of spring!
Now rewind a few months from this day 16 years ago to December 25th, 1999, I was 15 years old and I woke up for Christmas morning to learn that my Grandpa had a stroke. I remember hearing my oldest brother exclaim loudly, “There is no GOD!” and then I remember wandering the halls of St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon, still foggy, and in complete disbelief. I remember those big heavy Emergency doors, sliding open and I still recall the sound of them closing!
The next thing I remember was going in to see the sadness and fear in my grandmothers’ eyes. I would hold my grandpa’s hand, thankful that I was able to hold his hand still alive one more time! The sound of my feet slowly dragging throughout the empty hallways was the loudest sound I’d ever heard. All I could do was wonder why today of all days were these halls so empty. I waited for my Grandpa to have a CT Scan and then learning he had another small stroke while having the scan done. After that, I don’t remember much!
Grandpa stayed the hospital for some time after this. I would take the bus to the hospital every Thursday to have lunch with him and my grandma. We would eat Cream of Chicken soup, and then my grandma would attempt to fill my purse with the individually packaged crackers. This was our thing, we did this every Thursday. I would bring stuffies of mine as anything with texture may help him gain strength in his hands again! I was convinced that he was going to be fine. Grandpa would regain everything he lost, he’d go home and this would all be a distant memory.
February 23rd, my mom’s birthday, having now been moved from the hospital to Parkridge Centre, the place where he would later pass. We had arranged for him to come out for dinner with us to our favourite family Cheesetoast. Grandpa wasn’t feeling well this day, that night he left early, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia.
March 12, 2000, the day after my 16th birthday, I had one of my last clear moments with my Grandpa. We went for lunch at that same restaurant. He was in good spirits! We got photos, he joked a bit.
8 Days later… he died!
March 20, 2000, I woke up and headed off to school, like any other day, no idea this would turn into the saddest first day of spring ever. The first period was English class, second period was Gym Class. Shortly after 10 am, the door opened the secretary was standing in the doorway motioning for my teacher. While everyone was looking at her, she was staring at me! I felt it in every inch of my being, I just knew!
Knowing what was coming my way, I started in towards the change rooms to put on my regular clothes and she was still there, waiting for me! I slammed the locker door and I yelled something at her. She said, “your mom is on her way!”
Since there was still snow on the ground, I waited inside for the Red GMC Safari Van. Their van, the same van I remember going on trips in as a child. My mom arrived at the school, I climbed in the vehicle that would lead me to the place where my heart would break more than every before. I don’t even remember talking with my mom. I just remember driving and seeing everything move passed me so slowly. My heart just kept telling my brain… “this CANNOT be real! He didn’t die! Everyone is confused, we’re going to get there and he will be fine!”
The van stopped at Parkridge Center, my whole body felt like I was pushing cement blocks. We took the elevator to the second floor, his floor, I still remember that smell. I remember the people, and I can still feel their stares, they knew that it was real, they knew that he died… it still wasn’t real to me!
I recall David sitting there and then it gets foggy. My mom asked me if I wanted to go in and say goodbye! I don’t recall exactly what I said but I remember thinking “No I don’t want to go say goodbye, cause he’s not gone!” I don’t know if I said it outloud, but the next thing I knew, I was walking into that room. Grandma was there, she looked heartbroken… all I could do was cry.
I held onto that Monkey and replayed memories of sitting with him watching him pick at the texture of the monkey’s nose; convinced that he was going to get better! Now I’m clutching the stuffie with everything I have and his body lies there lifeless… it’s REAL… he died!
My heart broke that day, I lost a big part of me! I’m still not able to talk about him without crying! I wish so badly that my girls could have met him! He would have been in absolute heaven with these two!
I wish he could be here! It’s been 16 years today and it every first day of spring is still the saddest one. It still feels like yesterday!