Finding light in the darkness

Next month makes two years since my grandfather’s passing on Oct. 12.

My papa, Steven Victorino, was full of love and compassion. Of course, he had his flaws, but he always had his little girls’ back.

When he got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the spring of 2013, we knew his time with us was short, but six months short was not what we were expecting.

I always planned to have him walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, create memories with his great-grandchildren — something he’ll never get to do.

Now, I’m not a expert on death. Nor, have I experienced it enough to say I understand every angle toward it. But I can say that his passing left me feeling like a part of me was missing. And two years later, I still do. These future intentions were crushed the day he died.

The morning of Oct. 12, 2013, my grandmother called me and said I better call in to work, because this very well may be papa’s last day. My heart sank. I knew this day was coming, but never could imagined it actually being here.

When I arrived at the house, you could feel the air being sucked out of it. There was mourning and death among us. I went to say goodbye, a word my papa liked to avoid. He hated tears and always told me to be strong for him.

Trying to hold back the tears I stayed strong. I had my mother, little sister and grandmother to be strong for. Someone had to be the bearer. And he asked me to be that.

As a family, we stood by his bedside, waiting for him to take his last breath, wishing it could be years from now.

I was upset at God for putting us through this. We didn’t deserve it. However, I held my faith and remembered that God will never give me more than I can handle. I tried to believe that there was a greater purpose to all of this. It had to be something. He couldn’t have died for nothing.

His last breath came and went. I wish I could say he died peacefully in his sleep, but he didn’t. I’m just glad we were all with him and had one last chance to say goodbye.

Life is full of surprises and we can never be prepared for them. We can lose someone we love in the blink of an eye. We never know when our last day will be on Earth. I can’t say for certain that I’ll be here tomorrow. All I can do is pray and have hope that I am blessed with another day because we were never promised tomorrow.

I like to think the greater purpose behind his death was to teach everyone just how precious life is.

My papa’s death taught me many things. It taught me to be brave and fight for my dreams. His death made me realize that I’m just one person in this big world, yet I can make a difference. Since his passing I’ve pushed forward. I’m pursuing my dreams. And I’m trying. Everyday I wake up determined to get there.

I do my best to help others and push myself to stay healthy. Some days are harder than others. Some days, I’ll miss him more and find myself tearing up. But he isn’t gone. I feel him besides me each and every day. I know he is close, watching over me and the family.

My papa and I had a bond. We were best friends and I miss him. But beyond it all, I am blessed to have been able to spend 20 years with him. I am thankful to have had him in my life.

My grandfather was my hero. I won’t have his death get the best of me. I won’t have his death not have been a lesson to me or anyone else. It taught me to love, to be strong, to be brave and to fight for what I believe in.

So that is what I will do.

Death can make us feel lost and lonely. Either it be your mother, friend or family member. Most of us have felt loss and know the heartache behind it. Death is hard to deal with, especially alone. Always remember there is always someone who’ll listen.

Papa, I know you aren’t here to read this, but I know you’re up there watching.

I miss you. And I will live well, because of you and all you taught me.

•••

Chloe Marchant, paginator and TGIFriday editor at The Garden Island newspaper, can be reached at cmarchant@thegardenisland.com.

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