Joan Rivers once said, "I enjoy life when things are happening. I don't care if it's good things or bad things. That means you're alive. Things are happening." I thought of this quote especially this past month after witnessing my grandfather pass away right in front of me. It was especially tough because I watched my mother watch her father go.
I never knew I had the strength to watch someone I loved more than anything leave this earth. To hold his hand as he was taking his last breaths, tell him it was OK to leave — I never knew I had that capability within me. I am one that holds on to everything — I mean, if you look at my closet, you will find things that I wore in high school (I'm not saying I'm proud of them; I'm saying they're there) — but there I was with my mother telling him, "It's OK, you can go" and "We are going to be OK" as he looked at us, knowing we were by his side as he started his new journey.
I'm not going to lie: I was questioning life after such a heartbreaking experience. That night, I couldn't sleep. I was tossing and turning, reliving his final breaths as he looked up into what I could assume was "the light." I was reliving the moment over and over in my mind, and I honestly wasn't sure if I could live with that type of memory.
When I was at the airport about to fly back to Los Angeles from San Francisco, I went to the bar to grab an Arnold Palmer and started chatting to a man and explained what I had just gone through. He started crying and he said, "It's exactly like Lady Gaga's song 'Edge of Glory.'" It's a song she had written when her own grandfather was dying and she was by his side — the term "edge of glory" was how she described her grandfather about to make his transition into his own glory. It wasn't "punishment" or "a bad memory" — this was a GIFT.
I was the fortunate one being asked to help my mother through my grandfather's death so she didn't have to be alone. In that moment, our relationship grew stronger, our appreciation for each other grew and our love for life increased. My gratitude for my grandfather's gift made me recognize the amount of joy life has given me, even in the saddest of moments.
Davina Adjani's writing is forthcoming in Chicken Soup for the Soul, released August 23, 2016.
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