← Back to all stories

Photo ofundefined

I was not promised all the time in the world. I was not promised next year. I was not promised next month. I was not even promised tomorrow. I never knew how much could change over time. One minute I was having the time of my life, and the next, everything around me was falling apart. Life can change in the snap of a finger, or, as many people say, in the blink of an eye.

My Granny used to tell me as a child, “Family is all we have, so spend time with them as much as you can.” She would always tell me this as a child, but what child really knows what that means? My family and I lived in Virginia and my grandparents lived in Louisiana. Being eighteen hours away from the rest of my family made it hard for me to keep in contact with them. So, the only time I would see my grandparents was Christmas. Twelve days out of an entire year was all I was given.

As a child, I always loved going to my grandparents’ house. I loved spending time with them; it never felt like something I had to do for them to love me. When I was with them, they used to tell me stories about my dad and his siblings. My favorite story was when my youngest uncle was doing dishes and instead of washing the dishes, he would throw them out the back window. My grandma would come home from work and cook dinner to find only a few pots. My grandparents would buy new pots and pans almost every three months because they could never find out who it was until one day his siblings told on him.

My grandfather would take me to McDonald's and let me get anything I wanted off the menu, and then he would give me money to take home. I never liked taking money from my grandparents, but they would repeatedly say, “It’s for all the time we don’t get to see you like we see your cousins.” It was at that moment that I knew I was running out of time with my grandparents.

As time went on and holidays kept coming and going, spending time with my grandparents was starting to feel more like a chore, something I had to do and not what I wanted to do. When I would spend time with them, it was for short intervals at a time. I would say to my cousins, “I just don’t have as much fun with them as I used to.” As time went on I never really noticed I was taking the time I had with them for granted. When I was younger, I never had a thought in the world my grandparents would die so suddenly. Unfortunately, that’s not how time works; I didn’t get warning signs when our time had come to an end. I just wish that I had come to this realization earlier.

The death of my grandparents was hard, but now they get to watch me from above and see all of my accomplishments. I now spend and cherish every moment I have with my family like it's the last moment I will ever get with them. I love telling my younger cousins about our grandparents and how they loved spending time with their grandchildren. Now, I look back and wish it didn’t have to be the death of my grandparents for me to realize that I still did enjoy cooking Gumbo with my grandma, going fishing with my grandfather, and eating Christmas dinner with the both of them. I’m only now starting to realize that losing important people in my life is what makes me push harder.

© Mackenzie Samuel. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.