A little over two weeks ago my mom called with the news that my Grandpa was back in the hospital, a place he has been visiting with greater frequency in the past few years. From the sound of her voice and the urgency of her text messages, I could tell that this time was different. He was very, very sick. Thankfully, I was able to make arrangements with my preceptors to go home to Cincinnati. I will forever be grateful to the flexibility and understanding that those doctors showed me. I was able to take some time to be present with my family. What a gift.
On Saturday, May 7, 2016, we lost the greatest man I've ever known. For all intents and purposes, he was the best father-figure I've ever had in my life. He was my biggest cheerleader and supported me in all of my endeavors. (Especially my decision to attend Indiana University).
To my Papa, being a lifelong learner was paramount. He said "get your education, no one can ever take that away from you." Most importantly, he inspired me to pursue medicine because of his long battle with Multiple Sclerosis and remains one of my biggest motivations to get that D.O. degree.
If you knew him, you would know that even though life isn't fair it can still be wonderful. That even though not everyone is kind, you can still "kill them with kindness." You would know that you get out of life what you put in and you are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. Most of all, if you knew him, you would know what it means to live life fearlessly and to love your family with all your heart. That's who my Papa was and I hope to make him proud every single day.
Loss. It's something we all deal with. Many, many times over. One of the worst things about losing someone you love is that everything and everyone else keeps going. There is no pause button. There is no sacred time to mourn and unplug. You just keep going. Work beckons, books beg to be studied, meals should be prepared and eaten, bills need to be paid. And yet there is a tremendous hole where a special person used to be.
I feel fortunate to have had 26 years with my grandpa. To learn from him. To answer trivia questions and challenge in Jeopardy. To share Eli's BBQ. To cheer on the Hoosiers.
With time, though, a sense of normalcy and routine starts to creep back in. Auto-pilot. Cruise control. The only difference is, the hole is still there.