THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, June 8, 1984
THE PAIN OF LOSING SOMEONE
I looked out my window afraid, while the trees spun in the wind, the barn quivered with fear and the wind
whistled with howls. My heart dropped to the ground after hearing my father's words, "Your grandmother
I knew as sweet as she was, this could not be true, but it was. I suddenly felt chills rushing through my
body; it was as cool as a blistering wind. My mind and thoughts were spinning through my heart as I saw my
grandmother's life passing through my eyes. I was more scared than ever. All I could possibly think of was the
worst for my family and myself.
Slowly, I walked to my bed and sat there crying, unable to control myself. I was crying out the pain I felt
for both myself and my grandmother. I could not imagine, out of all the people in the world, why this had to
happen to her. There are so many diseases in this world with ways to cure them, but, there is still no cure for
the type of cancer that my grandmother, has. There is only the pain, many shots, chemotherapy and the loss
she has to face, in front of her. After hearing and feeling them, I knew I did not want to see her suffer. I wanted
to help but I also wanted to run away from all of this. I knew by doing that I would be cheating myself and my
grandmother out of the many memorable moments she still has left.
It now seems to me that I have made the right decision by facing my grandmother's illness. It began in
September, the evening of Rosh Hashahah, the Jewish New Year. She became ill. We were at the home of my
grandparents, Pearl and Jack Epstein, having dinner. After dinner, some of the family left for services, while
the rest of us remained at my grandparent's apartment. It was at that time that we noticed a jaundice color in
my grandmother's face. We took her to the hospital and admitted her through emergency. In the two-three
weeks she spent there, they ran every possible test. They found out they needed to remove her gallstones. At
the time of surgery, they found cancer of the pancreas. Although they tried to remove all the cancer, they were
not successful: During my grandmother's stay in the hospital, we all proceeded to visit her quite often and
also when she returned home.
Three months later, around December 5th, my grandparents left for Florida. Christmas vacation came
around. My family and I headed down to Florida to have fun and visit with them. The day we arrived, we were
to visit my grandparents. My grandfather looked fine, but when I looked in my grandmother's eyes I started
to think what if this were the last time I would see her. I then decided to spend as much time as I possibly could
Winter started to come to an end. Then on March 5th, my grandfather insisted that they were to come
home so she could be with her family.
A few days after they returned, we went to visit. When I saw her I was glad, but noticed something very
different about her, it was her weight. She had lost about 10 pounds and looked very frail. It was scary. We've
spent many days together since she's been back.
I then went on my Easter Vacation. Before I had left, had this very weird dream. In my dream, on April
23rd, my grandmother would be put in the hospital. I did not think anything of this because I've never had a
dream tibme true. The dream did come true. On April 23rd, my grandmother was put in the hospital around
3:00 p.m. I could not believe this. My dad said on the way to the hospital, "When you see your grandmother,
don't be alarmed by her appearance."
I said, "I won't be."
He then proceeded on by saying, "I think you might be because she does look bad."
I then just thought about her. I was worried that this was the end. I walked into the hospital room, looked
at her bed and I wasn't sure it was her. What I saw was a woman who looked like someone I'd never seen
before. It looked as if it was the end. I froze at the awful view, then slowly approached her. She said, "I love
I was so glad to hear that. I then sat in the room while she threw up blood and cried out in pain. That pain, I
felt in me. They had to start an I.V. because she couldn't keep in any food. When they were doing this, I walked
out of the room and started to hyperventilate. I was scared. I knew everyone else thought it was the end, too.
I listened to my father cry out, "She looks like a whole different lady" and I felt his pain and sorrow, also
realizing how painful it was for both my father and his sister to be losing the woman who gave birth to them
and raised them. I looked at my uncle, who was feeling sorry for his wife and family. I then looked at my
cousins, who were also scared and worried. I looked at my grandfather, who has to think of the future, going
home to no one, living an entirely different life. I looked at my sister, who was confused, scared and listened to
her say, "It looks like a live skelton lying in a bed." I looked at my grandmother, who has to lie in a bed in pain,
unable to eat, scared to leave her family, fighting for her life, not wanting to die but yet really wishing she was
dead so she would not have to suffer like this. Then, also thinking of myself, losing practically my favorite
person. A person who loves me, has helped raise me, has seen and felt the pain I've gone through with my
parents and their divorce, thinking of not having another grandmother and thinking most of all, about the
worst, the future, What it will be like without her.
I've spent most of my spare time in the hospital with her, knowing this is the end. I've cried and worried.
I've listened to her say, "I'm sorry about your birthday." She had promised to spend it with me and told me it
would be a special one.
I now know this is the worst pain of all, losing someone you love very much. I only wish there was
something I could do, like give her my life, but I can't.
So, Nanny, I want you to know that I love you a lot and I will remember you and the many good years
we've shared. I will do all I can to help you through the time you have left by being there with you and when
you're gone, I'll still love you and I'll try somehow to help find a cure for this destroying disease so people
won't have to suffer like I've seen you.
Written by Lisa Epstein,
15-year-old granddaughter of
Pearl Epstein, shortly before
the death of her dear grandmother
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