Gabriel Badakhasian

One phrase I think is a bit overused and has lost its meaning is the phrase: “a fate, worse than death.” I have heard it been used in circles I frequent, and it's been used so many times in so many conflicting ways that it just doesn't mean anything to me anymore, that was until I did find a fate worse than death, and that came in the challenge of accepting the hardest death for me to deal with, the death of my grandfather.

My grandfather was perhaps the strongest man in my life thus far, and his impact on me has been profound. He was a smart successful businessman, a hard worker with three engineering degrees under his belt, but still blazing with compassion and love for those around him. He cared not only for me and my family, but for his friends and his Armenian identity as well; and as I grew up, I fortunately had him there at pretty much all times. But as time marched forward,, I could see him start to slow down as all beings do, and I knew it was just how things were. The young are fast and the old are slow. Yet, what hurt the most and what tested my mind, was when he was diagnosed with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. I knew what they were, and I knew what would happen in time, but I could not really grasp how bad it would be before he finally passed.

It was a slow, but steady process that didn’t leave room for hope. Day by day, he started to move less and talk less. However, he still had his mind. But of course, it worsened, he started to slur his words and sometimes when he was in the middle of talking, he would just stop and put his head down quietly as the tension in the room died. One night though, the tension didn't die, and I still feel the severity of it even more, and that was the night of his death.

I have seen and heard of many good people die, too many to list off, of course, but out of all the ones that affected me, my grandfather was the one to make me question death as a concept and what my purpose is on this earth.

Watching my grandfather slowly decay in front of my eyes from day to day, it horrified me, and as I saw him on his deathbed that one day, struggling for breath as I noticed how malnourished he had become, it then occurred to me while I held his hand, I had just realised a fate worse than death, to die without memory. He made me realise what I had to lose, and I left his house that night with a sense of determination. I realised though my grandfather that no one was invincible, and with that, my own mortality came into question. I did a lot of thinking, and even now I still don't have a complete grasp on it, but I do know one thing: I don’t want to fear the end, even if it's a fate worse than death. I think it's useless to spend countless hours worrying about it, I want to move forward because I know that I don’t have any time to waste. I want to become something, go somewhere, do something. I don’t want to just sit around and complain, I want to change things. I don’t want to become a stubborn old man. I want to become the man my grandfather knew I can be.