Grandpa's last wish

The vast night sky was blanketed with a velvety black fabric littered with millions of tiny shining stars glittering like shards of glass. I felt small and insignificant as I lay on the white sand, my head cushioned on his lap. The feel of his fingers running through my hair and the silence of the night, broken by the muted hissing of the waves lapping at the beach, left me feeling safe and peaceful inside. I was not thinking of our past, or our uncertain future, just the now, just this moment of bliss away from the noisy, complicated world.

"Nic?" I said softly, still looking at the tranquil sky above.

"Hmm…"

"Do you have grandparents?"

He seemed startled for a moment, then, he replied, "of course I do, who doesn't?"

"Are you very close to them?"

He thought for a moment before replying. "Well, not really. They use to take care of me when I was younger, but since I became a singer, I have not spent much time with them anymore…" I could hear the regret in his voice.

After a short pause, he continued, "But, whenever, I get sick or when I go back home for a visit, my grandma would always spend the whole day brewing my favorite soup for me. My grandfather would always nag me on bringing home a daughter-in-law for him, although I know he does not really mean it." Looking down at me, he smiled lovingly. "Perhaps the next time I go home, I would have someone to show him."

I blushed and looked away, but did not reply. My thoughts turn to my own grandparents, involuntarily, I gave a small sigh. It was a soft sigh, barely stirring any air at all, but he must have heard me for he turned to me inquiringly.

"Is something wrong?"

I shook my head. "No, it's just… I miss my grandpa. …He passed away last year …"

Thinking about my grandpa stirred up emotions that I thought was long dead. The last time I saw him, he was lying in the hospital bed, various tubes and monitors attached to his thin, wasted body. He had called me to his bedside, his voice coarse and painful to my ears.

"Lizzie…you are a bright girl…with a bright future…" he paused to cough, "you must cherish what you have…" His hands gripped mine with unnatural strength. "Don't….don't make the same mistakes… as I hh-have…"

I could tell that talking was sapping the last of his energy. "Grandpa! Please, don't talk any more! Please don't!" I tried to silence him through my running tears, but to no avail.

His voice was rough with urgency. "Listen to me Lizzie…find someone you love … and don't let go…never…never…let go."

And with that, he was gone.

Even the thought of it now, made my eyes prickle. My grand father's last words echoed in my head. I know what he meant, for his story was told to me once on a summer's night by my dearly beloved mother. My grandfather lived through world war two. He was in his early twenties when the Japanese over-ran southeast asia. He was living with my grand mother and my father, who was still an infant, in Malaysia at that time. In order to flee the Japanese, he had to board a ship going to America with my grandmother and my father. However, along the way, there was a great storm and although the ship made it back to the USA, my grandmother had been washed over board in that storm, never to be seen again. My grandfather, needless to say, was devastated and he never really got over her all those years ago.

I have never really forgotten that look in his eyes when he breathe his last. Before, his eyes were glassy with the pain and the suffering that the brain tumor was inflicting on him. I could see the anguish and weariness reflected in his face, every movement was torture to him. But in that last second, his glaze was focus on something distant. It was like he could see pass the grey sterile walls of the hospital, pass the immense hardships that have plagued his life, into something that brought him the greatest joy of all. The sorrow and agony had left his eyes then. All the regret and fatigue was gone. He looked more at-peace than I've ever seen him. It was then I truly believed that he had gone to a better place, a place where he could finally rest and be free of life's cruel chains. Perhaps he had finally reunited with my grand mother in that place beyond life. At least that's what I like to think.

Watching my grandpa die was left a scar in me. A scar that can never be erased, it was something that I had to bring with me forever, my own burden to carry. That's why I've never spoken of it to any one before, not even to my parents or my best friend. But for some reason, I poured it all out to Nic. Even as the words flowed out, I was reliving that day in my head again. I told him about how I locked that grief behind aching, dry eyes, how the nights were unbearable because of those dreams, how much I missed him in the first few months.

As I spoke, Nic gently wiped away tears that I didn't even know were there. He kept silent throughout my ranting, but when I was spent, he murmured words of comfort in my ears, all the while stroking my back. I did not remember what he said, but his presence beside me, warm and solid, like an ancient tree in the midst of a hurricane, was more comfort to me than any thing he could have said.

"Nic?"

"Yes?"

"I'm never going to let you go."

He smiled at me then. My beautiful angel. His hold on me tightened.

"Me neither."

For the first time in a year, I slept well that night.

A/N: Related to my own real life experience.