Loss - Todd Williams '17

What is loss? What does it mean and when does it really matter. Your losses are what shape you as a person and can be something you carry with you for the rest of your life. To some, a big game is lost when at the final buzzer the opposing team is celebrating because they had scored more points than you in the allotted time. To some, a loved one or close friend passing is considered losing them. To some, loss is losing a friend due to fighting or a number of many other reasons. So what is loss? And when do you know that you have lost? Is it the buzzer at the end of a championship. Is it the straight line and long beep of a heart monitor. Is it the emptiness that used to be filled with companionship.

I was lying in bed with my sister who was two at the time, crying. I was only eight, and one week before my parents had divorced; on my eighth birthday. I was now at my grandparents house, my father’s side, because my parents thought that my sister and I deserved a break from the constant fighting and the storming out and the cursing and so on and so forth. I held my sister tight and reassured her that everything would be okay and that the fighting would be all over soon, but she was sleeping. I guess I needed to think that I was helping or comforting her so that I had an excuse to ball my eyes out. Funny how even at eight I act like it was “not manly” to show my emotions. Anyway you look at it, I was crying and I needed something. The door creaked; I turned my head to see who it was, and sure enough it was my goofy grandfather. He stumbled into the room, “what's the matter capin’?” “I don't want to talk about it,” I mumbled as I was still choking back tears. He replied, “Well, me neither, but it's better to let out whatever bothers you then to let it build up until you freak out on Nena. Poor woman already makes the house crazy, I don't need you adding to that.” I tried my best not to laugh, then I chuckled. I rolled over and looked into his eyes, tears running down my face. He wiped the tears with his hand, reached in his pocket and gave me a chocolate mint. He then held my hand and said, “You're not alone, and you never will be as long as I am around.” I hugged him, the tightest hug that I have given in my entire life, and began to tell him everything.

I am twenty one now. It's hard to imagine the impact that someone makes on your life, especially when they are not there. Your morales change to theirs. Your view morph to fit his or hers. It has been four years since his passing. But it has been much longer than I had anticipated. Time seemed irrelevant for a while, it all kind of blended. I was at school, I was home, I was in a field, and now in a bar. Not always in that order but you can get the picture. It's rough, I know what loss is, that's the worst part. Most people fear the unknown, but when the unknown becomes known, sometimes you wish that your only fear was what you thought that you knew. But I am a man now, I have to get over it, and I will get over it. But I will never forget, I will never truly lose him because I am a part of him as he is a part of me. I carry him with me everywhere I go. To the church, to the supermarket, to Buffalo Wild Wings, to the field. The field is the worst part, there are thousands of names, but you want the one that you knew to be a hundred feet tall so that it stands out and grabs the attention of other passers by. You want them to know how great of a man he was and how much of an impact that he had on you and others close to him. But I am grown up, or so I think at least. I am moving forwarding my life, and he would want me to do the same.

I was sixteen at the beginning of summer going into my senior year. And I knew all along that I would be much older going into next year. Although it was only one year in number, it must have been twenty in heart. I would visit him in the hospital, in the bed, on the floor. I was there, I saw my grandfather dying. I saw everything, from vomit to crying to coughing to death. I was there. I knew that he was gone. I knew for a while that he was gone. That is what hurt the most. That is what frustrated me the most. I had known that this was going to happen, and I knew that I could do nothing to stop it, nothing to prolong his legacy, his life. Just like that, flip of a switch, his body was gone. All that lived were his blood and his stories. I will never forget. I was there. I knew. It was three o'clock in the morning. I was awake, the only one there. I rushed to the nurse only for her to come in and put her head down. I was there. The night before might have been the most that I had ever cried. My dad had exchanged some words with his, and began to cry. He then walked to me, telling me that it was time to go. I told my dad that I would stay the night here and that I would be fine, so he nodded his head and set off for the hotel that was about two minutes away. I strutted over to the bed and pulled up a chair, he was crying. I told him that I loved him and that nothing would ever change that. I told him that I will live my life for him and that he would never be gone to me. He would never be forgotten. He inhaled violently two times to clear his nose and throat, he took my hand as he had years ago. He picked his head up as I leaned in.

What is loss? And if there is loss and so much of it, how do we win? It's a touchy subject to some, especially me. But each person has their own experiences and situations which scales their loss different from yours. My greatest loss may have been a family member and that is the case for many. Some people lost a championship game or a girlfriend and that is their greatest loss. It doesn't matter, with all loss comes pain. Not always “it's all my fault” type of pain. But pain none the less. Pain pushes us to strive for greatness, to strive for something, or at least it should. I am glad that I could share this story, because at the end of the road, that is all we leave behind. So tell a good one, make a good one, never lose.