Not my typical first day in school

By Jemaima Rae C. Porter|

“Don’t cry Ashley. Don’t be afraid. I will be outside, here, when your class ends.” My grandfather’s promise whenever I get scared in entering our classroom on the first day of school.

My grandfather is my hero, best friend, and partner in everything. I couldn’t imagine my life growing up without him.

I never got the chance to meet my real father. I just heard stories that he and my mom were secret lovers when they were young. They were inseparable, just perfect for each other.

They got married at an early age of twenty-two. After three months of being married, my mother got pregnant. They had their first baby. That’s me.

My mother had a perfect pregnancy in her first three months, until my father was diagnosed with stage four leukemia. That’s when everything changed; from happy to sad; perfect to imperfect, well to unwell; and rich to poor.

They had to spend all the saved money for my father to get better. But things didn’t change, it only got worse. Three months before I was born, my father’s life was expected to last for another month.

My father survived the first month. But the second, he refused to take medications because it’s only a month away before my mother’s labor. That’s when they decided to stop everything – from medication to check ups.

According to my grandfather’s story, my father chose to spend the rest of his life with his family than in the hospital where he can already smell the scent of death. My father’s condition got worst over the month of November, even though he doesn’t like it; he was usually rushed to the hospital. He was confined for 12 times.

On his 12th confinement, it was at Christmas Eve. He was so weak.  His confinement did not last long. Five minutes before Christmas, he passed away.

With too much mixture of stress and sorrow, my mother went into labor.I was born at exactly December 25, it was the sunrise of Christmas Day.

Since then, my grandfather stood as my father, while my mother was very much devoted to her work as a professor in one of the most renowned universities in the country.

My grandfather is my playmate since the day I was born. As the only child and having a strict mother who doesn’t let me play outside or make friends with other kids, I grew up as a quiet but fun loving kid.

When I first entered school, I was very afraid. I thought I could never make it. But I did.

I can still remember how my grandfather would treat me out for snacks when I got high scores in exams, and how he would buy me new clothes and toys whenever I got special awards at the end of the school year.

And when the first day of every school year came, he was always there to guide me. He was even more excited than I am. I remember how he would make me sandwiches and prepare my things for school. His presence was the reason why I never cried on the first day of school. But that was ten years ago. Now, I am about to enter college.

Everything is prepared. I have my packed lunch, bag, notebook and pen. But one thing is missing– my grandfather.

Three years ago, he was diagnosed with a heart failure. Knowing that he was sick made me mad. I got mad at the world, at him, at everyone, at everything.

In my mind was the question, “how can I make it without him?” I need him.

He told me that everything was going to be alright, and I can make it without him.

For three years, without his guidance, I made it out of high school. But as I continue to grow and learn how to be independent, my grandfather got weaker and weaker.

He did not want to be confined at the hospital. He even got mad, cried, and hugged me, begging not to confine him when we tried to. It broke my heart seeing my grandfather as weak and fragile as a paper.

His suffering ended one night before my first day of college. I was very afraid to leave for school because I felt alone. With him not being with me physically on the first day of school, I did not feel brave enough. But as his words stroke my heart again and again, “Go to school Ashley I will be with you. I will be here when your class ends,” I felt strong and faithful enough that he’s with me.

Now, it feels like I’m starting all over again as a grade one student. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. My heart is pounding ten times faster. And everyone is looking at me like I’m a lost child.

In my mind, this is not my typical first day of school. I’m in college, everyone is cool, doesn’t care about the world, brave enough to face everything.

But that’s not me today. I’m scared and longing for my grandfather. Maybe some won’t understand it but this is the hardest ordeal I have ever had. And this is the start of my growing up to be independent, fearless, and strong.

I am ready.

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