Thank you for your patience with me over the past week.

Late Thursday/early Friday my phone started blowing up with calls from my siblings. I finally woke up, realized what was happening and called my brother back. I was instructed to Skype my mom in Thailand, where she is serving in the Peace Corps.

And then I got the news.

My grandfather had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a few hours before.

I spent the next few days alternating between a state of grief and utter shock. He had undergone minor knee surgery earlier that day with no complications. He was an extremely healthy 76-year old man who had still been working until recently. What had happened?

We’re still trying to figure out the answers to that question. But the answers won’t bring him back.

My grandparents have been a constant presence in my life. They’ve come to every graduation, they were my default babysitters when I was growing up and I had assumed they would be sticking around to meet more great-grandkids (they already have 7!). I’ve been extremely lucky.

When something like this happens, when a loss hits home, it shakes you to the core. In the past four years, I have lost two of my most influential role models. This one was not only a tremendous blow, but I was completely unprepared.

Tragedy offers a new perspective and helps you reprioritize. I caught a flight to my grandparents’ hometown and spent four much-needed days with family. I saw my mom, who had jumped on the first flight home and traveled 18 hours. I put aside ¬†work and school. I hugged my grandma and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins a little harder.

Hopefully this experience will make me a more empathetic and understanding nurse.

But right now all I plan to do is grieve and honor an incredible man.

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