As previously posted, my work was delayed a couple hours today due to weather. Shortly after getting into my office my phone rang. It was my co-worker. “I’m calling to tell you a student has died.” Gasp.

December has proven to be a rough month in my life. Two years ago on Dec. 20, my grandfather died, unexpectedly. Today a student died.

These December deaths hit me pretty hard. My grandfather’s death was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I had seen him one week before he died. He was in okay health for an 86 year old man, but was heart broken over my grandmother’s death the previous August. He insisted he did not want to spend Christmas with out her. And in the end he never did.

I miss him everyday. Not one day passes that I don’t think about him and how much he meant to me. And in a lot of ways he lives on. Many people thought he was a grumpy old man, but he was always so wonderful to me and he loved me so dearly. I could do no wrong in his eyes.

When my grandmother was dying many of us in the family took turns staying at the house every night. I stayed two nights a week, this went on for two months until she died. It was during that time that I witnessed total and complete compassion and love from my grandfather towards my grandmother, and it made me love him even more. She had Alzheimer’s and would get up and wander at night. She would be frightened and not know where she was. I was the able body there to help with her wandering, but it was my grandfather’s patience that always managed to calm her down and get her back to bed. When she passed away he was devastated. I’ve never seen anyone so heart broken, until he died and then my mother took that role. He was miserable in the four months that he lived past her and his death was bittersweet. I wish we still had him here, but he never would have been happy with out her and really just wanted to move on. It may sound corny, but his love and strength keep him alive in me. I really feel he is with me each day in a way I do not feel about other deceased relatives.

The pain of losing him five days before Christmas will never quell. I know how difficult it is to get through the holiday with such loss. I feel so much pain for the family of our student that passed away today. I can’t imagine how her parents and family must feel. There is never a good time to lose a child, but this time of year makes it so much harder.

I found myself thinking about the cycle of life today as I was dealing with this crisis. And thinking about how you just never know what is in store. I can’t imagine being a parent and losing my child. And then I think about trying to get pregnant and how this person we’ll create will be so meaningful and I’ll want to protect them from all bad things. All the while I know that I can not.

This has certainly changed my plans for the weekend. A. will go to Maine in the morning to celebrate Christmas with her family, but I will stay behind as I am one of few people needed here on campus to deal with crisis intervention and support. It will be a rough weekend.

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