You can’t call eternity

Learning to cope with the death of my grandpa


Senior Margaret Mutoke lounges on a couch with her deceased grandfather

Story by Margaret Mutoke, Staff Writer

It was a hot summer night. I stood outside, feeling the stickiness from the humidity on my skin, the Cicadas sang their loud repetitive song. I looked up at the stars hoping that he was going to get better.

Lewis Thompson was my grandpa. He had this loud voice that you could hear from downstairs. He was my whole world. 

Growing up my parents worked at the United Nations. Due to their jobs, they traveled quite frequently which meant trips to stay with Memaw and Pawpaw. I always loved to be with them. It was like living in paradise every day with them. 

Christmas was golden with them. They would sing silver bells in unison, it was the most beautiful sound. When my parents would get back from their trips, I would have to come home. I would weep as we drove away from their house. 

As I grew older those trips shortened to just Christmas and summers. In 2016, my great grandmother passed. I think it was the last straw for my grandfather.

We moved to Texarkana that summer. Instead of moving happily, I came kicking and screaming. It was middle school. I was so angry leaving; I had already had my friend group in New Jersey. That anger slowly left as I made new friends and enjoyed spending time with my grandpa 24/7. 

Time passed so quickly. I blinked, and I was in high school. But that’s when my time with my grandpa grew shorter. Over my ninth grade year, my grandpa began to have periods of being sick and in and out of the hospital. It was horrible, but he would always get better. 

At the beginning of summer, he got sick again, but it wasn’t that serious. It was odd though, he was sick enough that he missed the family reunion, something he never did. It was a hard month already because my puppy and my aunt, unfortunately, passed away.

While we were away in Washington D.C. for the reunion, we got a call about my grandfather being in the ICU. My heart dropped. This was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve heard. That one call changed everything. 

I cried the whole drive home hoping my grandpa was OK. When we got there, it was the worst I’ve seen him. I broke down in front of his gurney. I always hated seeing him in the hospital. Even when I was little and saw him in a wheelchair, I would sob.

They finally sent him home, and it was nice to see him not connected to a million tubes. But my mother and sister had to go on a trip for two weeks, and I was so sad. For those next two weeks, all I heard was groaning upstairs. It was unbearable seeing him like that, but I was sure they sent him home because he was going to get better. I was sure that this was just some sort of rough patch that he had to go through, but I knew he was going to get better. 

He wouldn’t eat at all, and his face grew from round and soft to hollowed-out cheeks and dry skin. I was so emotionally exhausted, and it was difficult because I felt so isolated. 

My mom and sister finally came home after what felt like eons. I was happy they were back and things were looking up. It was also my mom’s birthday, so we celebrated. But that night was going to be the worst night of my life. 

I was still so tired from the previous emotionally exhausting weeks, and once I touched my bed that night it was lights out for me. My mom then woke me up later that night. She told me I should go upstairs. He laid upstairs surrounded by family. I was stuck in place. I finally realized why they sent him home. 

He wasn’t getting better; it was quite the opposite. He lay in the bed still. I couldn’t believe it was true. My hero was gone. I let out so many tears and screams. I was so upset. This is what it felt like to have your heart ripped out in front of you. The world lost color. The holiday that I loved so much became just another day. 

It’s times like this that I miss him the most. Being a senior in high school, it’s times like this I wish he could see me. It’s so hard being without him and I think about him all the time. And I wish I could pick up my phone and call him, but that’s when I realize you can’t call the afterlife.