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How My Grandma Actually Died

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Sometime in May 1998, when I was six years old, my parents called for my siblings and I to have a seat at the dining room table. I have two siblings; an older brother and a younger sister. With somber looks on their faces, my mother and father informed us of our grandmother's passing. Naturally, we all started wailing. All of us except my older brother, that is. He was clearly upset, but he wasn't crying. My sister and I noticed this, but decided not to inquire him. After about 15 minutes, our parents decided to send us to bed early, but not before a prayer. Our family prayed every single night. The thing is, I do not recall who we were praying to exactly. We never went to a church or temple, we only prayed to someone or something that my parents referred to as "our savior."

After our prayer (we prayed on behalf of my grandmother, of course), we showered and went straight to bed. My brother and I shared a room, sleeping in a bunk bed, while my sister had her own room. I climbed up to the top bunk and dove under the covers to resume my bawling. My brother, however, sat up in bed, staring into space.

"I don't believe this. Grandma went on the road trip with us," he said with no emotion, probably talking to himself.

I now realize the significance of that statement. A few weeks prior, during our Passover break from school, my family went on a road trip. It was a drive to a campsite in the countryside, about 110 miles from our town. Our grandmother had joined us for the trip, but I have now realized that she never came home with us.

The trip was nothing spectacular. It lasted about two hours. For the duration of the trip, I was focused on my Game Boy, and didn't pay much attention to anything else. The memories are blurry, but I somewhat remember my grandmother sleeping for the whole trip. My father asked my mother something to the effect of "Did you give her the medicine?" right before we left.

As soon as we arrived at the campsite and got settled in, I decided to rest in my tent for a while. As soon as darkness fell upon the countryside, my mother tapped on the sealed flap to my tent. I unzipped it, only to see her face, completely void of any emotion. She beckoned me over to the front of the tent, to which I obliged.

"Your dad and I are going to do something with grandma. Do not follow us, or you will be left behind."

Despite her cold and callous voice, I let out an oblivious chuckle. I thought that the last part was just a silly joke. I shook my head, and my mother left. I'm not sure how I didn't notice my grandma's sudden disappearance. No one acknowledged my grandmother's absence. No one even mentioned what our parents told us the previous night. We just went about our holiday.

The anniversary of her death just passed, and I quickly made these realizations. I feared the worst, but I wanted confirmation and closure. I haven't seen my parents in years, but I always trusted my brother. I called him that day, and asked him what happened. His voice grew grim, and he was silent for a few moments. He asked me to write down everything he said, to which I did. He slowly read out coordinates to some place, and abruptly hung up.

I searched up the coordinates on my GPS. They were coordinates of the campsite I had visited as a child. Overwhelmed with fear of what had happened to my grandmother 18 years ago, I jumped into my car and began the long drive to the campsite.

Upon arrival, I ran into the wooded area surrounding the now abandoned site. I searched for hours, seeing if I could find anything. Shortly before I was about to give up, I found myself in a small clearing. I saw two stones, each having a patch of dirt in front of it. I dropped to my knees and I cried. I finally figured out what had happened.

Feeling weak, I crawled over to the two graves. I picked up the first stone. Holding it close to my face, I read out the four words crudely carved into it:

"For you, my savior."

I was sure that this was the final resting place of my grandmother. But I wondered why there was another grave. Using the last of my strength, I heaved the stone up to eye level and read only two words that were carved into it. I was unsure as to who the grave was for, but I have just now realized, it was meant for me. The two words on the small stone were words that my mother said to me during that fateful vacation:

"Left behind."

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