How loss ultimately led to a reunion


Photo used with permission from Cherryne Lee.

Overlooking the landscape of Pennsylvania from thousands of feet above, very few prominent structures stick out to the naked eye.

Hustling, rushing, and overjoyed by wanderlust, the travelers, ecstatic with their differing reasons for being here, swarm from concourse to concourse in search of their designated gate of access. Varying in cultural backgrounds and traveling motives, each individual at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport congregates here in order to reach his/her destination of choice. Sitting side-by-side, each traveler, excited or not, respects the purpose of the others, for the mutual understanding of the differing perspectives looms over the habitual curiosity.

In the midst of the influx of people, my dad and I wander around the airport and “explore”, for we both share the love for the busy atmosphere of the airport, and the feeling of being comparatively small to the vast building and massive airplanes always tends to bring a sense of contentment in me. However, this trip is not the same; my father is not the same. The night before, we had received a phone call from North Wales, Pennsylvania, informing us that my great grandmother, who had been previously been staying in a hospital in the usually quiet and uneventful town had been taken off of life support, and she had passed away a few short hours after. My dad had held his emotions in for my sake, although the tables will definitely have turned later on. Our flight consisted of silence, few short conversations about the flight itself and travelling in general, and small failed attempts of light-hearted banter. When we finally landed and reached my cousins’ house, we were both suddenly hit by the loudest moment of silence. Seeing all of my cousins and aunts and uncles in one room, devastated by the death of the most selfless women we all knew, a sense of realization hit me: when there is loss, there is a feeling of unity within the family. Everyone was there for one purpose: to celebrate the life of my great grandmother.

The few short days felt very long to me; I was struck by many different emotions, and I learned to take each one at a time in order to cope with them all. I wanted to comfort my relatives, but I felt like I would only bring more sadness upon them in the process. The next day, we woke up early in the morning to attend the official funeral.  Being my first funeral, the mood felt very foreign to me. As more seats were filled by the people who had come to say their final goodbyes to my great grandmother, more tears were spilled. It was almost inevitable to shed tears when some of the strongest people you’ve known had completely broken down. The most surprising and heartbreaking event was watching my father lose his ground, being that he is by far the most emotionally stable person I know. During the funeral, I caught a glimpse of my great grandmother’s corpse lying in the coffin. At that moment, it struck me that this moment would be the last time that I would being seeing her, and just the thought sent shivers through my body. “How is it that one can be living in the life that gave them everything they have, including the people that love and care for them, and in an instant, they are just gone?” The thought lingered with me throughout the funeral.

Although I was not very close with my great grandmother, the loss of someone so dear and selfless is enough to sadden anyone. After the service, my family and I sat together in the living room of my cousins’ house, and we shared old pictures and stories that were both heart-breaking and funny. We spoke about her life, beginning from the birth of my great uncle to the very day that she had passed. I learned about her journey to America, how she came here only to help raise my twin uncles. She had set up an amazing family environment back in India, and once she came here, the same environment was built up in Pennsylvania. Although my immediate family and I were not able to participate in most activities, my great grandmother made sure to always make us feel welcomed when we visited. This moment of reminiscing was especially important to me, since I was able to emotionally connect with family that I usually do not get to speak to and partake in the cherished celebration of my great grandmother’s life.

Within the two days of my trip, I gained so much more knowledge about my family and our hearth. As my father and I headed out, the mutual encouragement of one another to remain optimistic in our perspectives in life and several humorous comments of returning to reality were passed. The memories past and created presently were dear ones that were never to be forgotten.

Back at the airport, the overpowering liveliness aided me in transitioning back into reality. Hustling, rushing, and wandering, my dad and I found our assigned concourse and waited for our plane, reflecting on the previous happenings that drastically changed my viewpoint of family. This trip held significance that no other trip has ever held, and the events were surely to stick with me through my life.