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Photo ofMildred Chaudhary

Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s almost taken away from you. I grew up with my grandpa always being present in my life. My grandpa and I are literally best friends. He is the person I go to for advice and when I need to just rant about my day. He’s taught me almost everything I know from how to make pancakes to driving a car. We hung out almost every day and he would always call and check up on me just to make sure I was okay. He’s given some amazing advice about life that I still live by till this day and will forever be thankful. He is a very humble and wise human being.

February, 2021, I will be taught the most valuable lesson I have ever learned in my life. My grandma called to inform me that grandpa fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Now my grandpa is a very proud man and doesn’t quite believe in going to the hospital unless it’s life or death. So hearing this alarmed me. I called my mother telling her we needed to head to the hospital right away. We arrived and met my grandma and grandpa who were in the waiting room. Immediately, looking at  my grandpa I could tell he was in pain. He was admitted to the examination room and we had to leave due to the COVID restrictions. We later received a call informing us that my grandpa was indeed suffering from COVID , but that he would be fine and would have to stay in the hospital so they could monitor him. My family and I were relieved to hear he was recovering and were lucky that we all tested negative for COVID. A week after he was admitted he had been cleared for COVID and returned home. He was still weak and needed oxygen here and there, but you can tell he was much happier with the fact he was back home. I stayed with my grandparents for a little while after his release to help with his oxygen tank and monitoring his blood and sugar levels. A couple days had passed, when my mom and I had visited my grandparents to check on my grandpa only to find him lying in bed in pain. We immediately asked my grandma what happened and she told us that he had developed boils on his back and that his doctor had told them it was bedsores. When we walked into the room the air was filled with the smell of infection and immediately we knew something was not right. My grandpa had an appointment for Monday, but we knew it was not a good idea to wait until Monday to see the doctor, so I scheduled the appointment for the next day. I told my mom to go with my grandparents just so that we could get all the information and understand his condition. The next day, my mother accompanied my grandparents to the appointment while I waited at home with my brother. Five hours passed and they still had not returned. Finally, my mom’s car pulled up, but I only saw my mom. She had a dazed look on her face and tear stains on her cheeks. She gave me the phone which had a recording on it, a phone conversation between my mom and the surgeon. The surgeon explained that my grandpa needed emergency surgery and that it is critical they get started as soon as possible. What we were told initially were bedsores had actually been a flesh eating infection that in many cases ends in fatality. He said my grandpa had a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery in hopes that they caught it in time. We waited a couple hours for a phone call from the surgeon, and thankfully the surgery was successful and my grandpa had made it out alive. He’s still currently in the hospital in recovery and is having his third and last surgery before he can return home.

About two weeks after my grandfather’s emergency surgery I received a call from my mother early in the morning. She sounded numb and out of it, she informed me that my dad had gotten into a trucking accident and that he was in the emergency room. I immediately got up and asked all types of questions. She told me she didn’t know much and that she’s waiting for the doctors to inform her of my dad’s condition. So, once again a waiting game. Finally hours passed and my mom returned home and told me that my dad was okay, but sustained a concussion, trauma, and would be at the hospital for a few days. We had found out that the accident was a result of reckless driving and racing on the freeway and unfortunately my dad was just caught in the middle of it. The doctors had told my mom my dad was lucky to be alive because the impact should have killed him. My dad is back home now and is doing much better. He has his off days, but his overall health is good and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Having these two experiences happen within the course of a month has definitely taken a toll on me. There is always the question of ‘what if’ that lingers in the back of my mind. My motivation and mindset were completely a mess and scattered. I felt numb and helpless, it just seemed that one bad thing after another kept happening. Talking to my dad and grandpa though have made it much easier. They still talk with smiles on their faces and happiness in their voices. Almost losing them has caused me to look at the world from a new perspective; to enjoy each little or big blessing I have in my life because in a blink of an eye it can be taken away. I was lucky to realize that before it was too late, but others don’t get that same chance. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to help you understand your blessings.

© Mildred Chaudhary. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.