While other students were having the time of their life during February break – skating, Boston trips, and all the joys of a school hiatus – my family, including extended members like cousins, aunts, and uncles, found ourselves united in grief. February 18th, a day that also marked my brother's birthday, became a day of mourning for our beloved grandmother.

My family and I were aware that her death was approaching. Nurses were frequently coming and going from our home, and I overheard them mentioning that she likely had only about a week left. It was particularly tough for me when I had to relay these updates from the nurse to my uncle. Then, every day leading up to her passing, our extended family would visit up until her passing moments.

Initially, it was my father who proposed that I explore my grandmother's passing in writing. At first, the idea of delving into the depths of my grandmother's death through writing didn't sit well with me. Self-reflection isn't something I enjoy, and the subject matter weighed heavily on me. However, I came to recognize that sharing my story might provide solace to others. That possibility made me reconsider.

Unfortunately, during this time, I had a team presentation assignment for one of my classes, which didn’t make things great for my situation. We didn’t exactly meet extremely often, however, following break we would be doing the presentation which required us to communicate. The last thing I wanted for myself was to see anyone--I wanted to be left alone.

Despite everything, I still attended the meeting, wearing my brightest smile and maintaining my usual sense of humor. Why? Firstly, I detest the feeling of receiving pity from others. Secondly, we had a project to finish, and I wasn't going to allow myself to be the cause of any setbacks.

So, for the remainder of the week, I was having the worst time of my life internally but I had to keep the jokes rolling and the studying going. On those occasions when I felt upset or irritated, I'd often hear questions like "Why are you so annoyed?" or "Why do you look so angry?" My response would be a shrug or a simple "It's been a rough week." And when friends would tease me, I often attempted to brush it off with a laugh, but frankly, it made me irritated. Truth be told, I had no desire to engage with anyone, to crack jokes, or to deal with anything. 

At Malden High, the third quarter is notoriously brutal for everyone, and it became an absolute nightmare for me. Schoolwork, once manageable, lost all its appeal. My grades, a reflection of my waning focus, began a steady decline. Every day felt like slogging through mud, with sleep offering my only temporary escape. But the most agonizing realization was the depth of my jealousy.  Surrounded by classmates who seemed blessed with effortless success – complaining about mere 85s on tests. However, I was most jealous of my classmates who would be able to have a graduation with all their grandparents present.  This milestone, a celebration of accomplishment, would forever be tinged with the absence of my grandmother.  For those fortunate enough to have that complete picture on their graduation day, I envy you.

Months have passed since my grandmother's passing, and the waves of grief still come crashing in, even when I least expect them. Every Saturday I’m reminded of her death when my family gathers to pray and mourn together. This has made it difficult for me to make plans, however, I'm not complaining but rather providing my explanation to people if I have ever declined your offer to hang out recently.

I’m horrible at conclusions, so I will leave you with this: Treasure what you have and appreciate the good in your life, even if it sounds cheesy. 

And as for anyone concerned: my healing has been a journey, but I'm making progress. Unfortunately, however, my GPA is still on life support.

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