January 28th marks the anniversary of two very important events: my sister being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes; and my grandmother’s passing. This year was the 20 anniversary of my sister’s diagnosis, and the 7 year anniversary of my grandmother’s death.
I remember visiting my sister in the hospital, looking at the tubes she had in her as though they were snakes. I also remember the syringes filled with insulin that my mother would inject her with, and later my sister would inject herself with. The blood checks, the sound of the tiny point being drawn back before being released, pricking her finger. I remember all of these things and more, one of the strongest memories being the wish that I could have been the one to be diagnosed so that she did not have to suffer; that I could swap health with her and take away her pain.
As I said, January 28th also signifies the day my grandmother passed away 7 years ago. She passed away very early on a Sunday morning. I was a senior in high school, and I remember coming home from the hospital and sleeping for a few hours. When I woke up, I went to my computer, and I threw myself into my AP Lit assignment, a book summary of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The next day I went to school even though my mom said I could stay home. But I went to school, and I told all my teachers that my grandmother had passed away yesterday, and that I would not be in for the rest of the week. Each teacher expressed their condolences, but there also another emotion they had: concern. Concern for how the heck I was keeping it together, could be so composed. 7 years later I can answer that question, and the answer is because I was terrified of how I felt, and how I still feel about her passing. 7 years later, and I finally allow myself to feel those feelings.
Sadness, loneliness…just all around hurt are emotions we often try to bottle up. We tell ourselves to “Stop crying,” to “Get over it,” to try to “Cheer up.” Sometimes though we just have to feel because if anything feeling reminds us of those parts we try to switch off, the parts we think we put away. But you can never turn them off or put them away because as much as they hurt they remind us of how much we love the person.