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Meeting Death by Andrea German Gomez

It was the last day of July on a summer trip I went on with my grandpa and my sister, when I saw life in a different way. This occurred many summers ago when I was about six or seven years old.

My grandpa invited my sister and I to spend a couple weeks at the beach. There were moments of my childhood that I remember vividly, but this one stands out. When I close my eyes, I can relive the moment as if it was yesterday. The soft warm breeze that ran through my grandpa's window hit my face while I slept in the back seat of his car. Suddenly, I felt the car stop and I heard my grandpa's distinctive gravelly voice attempt to wake me up. With my eyelids still heavy and my thoughts confused, I start to look around to figure out where we were. As I got out of the car with the help of my grandpa, all I can see is a tall brick fence in the middle of an immense desolate grass field. Still a little hazy from my slumber I could not quite figure out where we were because there was nothing around us but a fence and the mountains in the background. As we walked toward the entrance of this tall fence, I could only hear the strong breeze and the skittering of a few kicked pebbles. Once we passed the fence, I had realized we were in a graveyard. I quickly grasped my grandpa's hand as tight as I could as we continued to walk through the trails of the eerie graveyard. As we were walking aimlessly, my sister asked my grandpa what the purpose of this visit was. My sister seemed not to be fearful of this place while I certainly was afraid. My grandpa smiled slightly and with his eyes still looking all around, told us that his grandfather was buried in this graveyard. Nobody comes to visit because of how far it is from our hometown. Finally, we stopped the search. He took a deep breath and kneeled before a gravestone covered in dust and overgrown grass. With his bare hands he cleaned off the dust and cobwebs, pulling out weeds, and handcrafted a broom to sweep the remaining dirt. He fished together some flowers from different gravestones and arranged a small yet beautiful bouquet and laid it in front of the stone. He stood up and asked us to pray with him. After a couple minutes of silence, we started walking back to the car. One aspect I always admired about my grandpa is how enthusiastic he is and how he enjoys everything he does. We quickly scurried over to where we parked and got in the car to continue our drive back home. As we left, it turned from a beautiful sunny morning into a gray rainy day in a matter of minutes. It felt as though something in me had changed that day. It was my first encounter with death. Death was unfamiliar to me, and I was scared to ask about it. The entire ride home I thought about my own death, would I ever be forgotten like my grandpa's grandpa? Thoughts such as not living life to its fullest, being forgotten, or losing any family member one day inundated my young mind with catastrophic scenarios and feelings. As the rain drops slid down the glass, tears poured down my cheeks the entire six hours of the ride back home. I just could not understand the meaning of life and death at such a young age. When I got home, I saw my mom and hugged her as tight as I could as if I never wanted to let her go.

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