This I Believe: I Will Never Walk Alone


Amanda Worrell, Creative Contributor

I never imagined the day would come. I had seen it happen to others, but never imagined it happening to me. My Nana was a little brown-skinned, white-haired brick of a woman. She wasn’t frail, her voice didn’t shake. I never saw her cry, she never let her emotions get the best of her. She wholeheartedly supported everything I did and was overly joyous about my accomplishments, no matter how small.
When I found out something was wrong, I was in complete denial. “It can’t be that big of a deal, Nana is healthy, she’s fine, it’s probably nothing.” However, the biopsy of the small lump on her neck and CT scans said otherwise. When you do a CT scan, you pray for the lung and throat area to be dark. Nana was glowing. Small cell carcinoma, the result of smoking most of her life, Nana had developed a complete layer of small tumors in both lungs, that began to travel upwards… hence the lump. “I’m not doing that chemo,” she insisted. I felt extremely selfish for being angry at her decision to deny treatment. She had a good life, she said. She wanted to be with papa now, she said. But I still needed her, I wasn’t done with her. She couldn’t leave now. 
Nana long surpassed her prognosis. Slowly, she got skinnier, her appetite dwindled, she let her hair grow out, breathing became more of a chore, she was put on oxygen, and was visited by a hospice nurse once a week. I was expectant of her passing, but at the same time… I wasn’t. She kept going and going and each day I told myself that the next day was there. Until one Saturday, mom was down at Nana’s, she kept asking my dad and I to come down… and we decided no, next weekend would be better. Ten minutes after that decision was made, my dad knocked on my door. “Hey, get in the truck.”
She passed right after we got off the phone with mom. Right after I decided that she would keep suffering for another week. Needless to say, dad and I turned a 3 ½ hour trip into 2. I sat on the floor in the living room, next to her hospital bed. My legs were asleep, my hand was numb… but I wouldn’t let go of her hand. By the time the funeral home arrived to take her away, her little hand was formed to the shape of mine.
Then she was gone. The house was so quiet, empty, serious. Sassy dog sat in Papa’s chair, whimpering. Alone. I was completely alone. The weeks leading up to her funeral were horrendous. I felt an unexplainable guilt and sense of responsibility for her passing. There was also a giant hole, that I couldn’t understand. I began to completely push the thought of her being gone out of my mind, but I was hurting.
My mom had bought little urn necklaces for the family. Mine is a fish hook. Nana was so good at fishing, and it’s one of my favorite things. I put it on, and it hasn’t come off since. From the time I put it on, I just felt this weird sense of comfort, and things began happening that I simply couldn’t explain.
One of the last conversations I had with Nana was the day after my birthday, June 7th. I had gone to the Navy recruiting office, scheduled my ASVAB and then called Nana to tell her. She was so overjoyed, so supportive. “I’ll be here through it all, I can’t wait to see you in your uniform, you’re so special.”
My processing was complete, all I had left to do was swear in. I was thinking of her, as I do most days. Wishing she was there, wishing I could call her and tell her I made it through. I was lonely. Then a hand on my shoulder when I was sitting in the waiting area. A white haired, little old lady asked me if I wanted to wait in the game room, offered me brownies she had just made, brewed a pot of coffee, pulled out a deck of cards. She listened, and smiled, and covered my hand with hers, just like Nana always did. My ceremony was about to begin. I went to my briefing, filed into the ceremony, standing at attention while the others got their family members. I said the oath, turned around, and caught Kathy, the sweet old lady, sitting in the back, staring at me. An unexplainable wave of comfort came over me and she ran up and hugged me and said, “Honey, she is so proud of you.” I left the MEPS that day, in awe of what had happened. We never spoke of my nana, because whenever I do, I get unbelievably emotional. It was like my nana moved through this woman, because she knew I needed something, a push. I know, I never believed in that stuff either.
Other things, such as my handmade Christmas stocking being neatly folded on Nana’s bedside table, two days after I was thinking about it. Away from all the others, without a clue as to how or why it was there. Birthday cards I had lost… I’ve been finding everywhere.
As little and stupid as these things may seem, I believe that I am never alone. That I am protected. That I am watched. I believe that my nana is experiencing everything I fail at and accomplish, just as she had promised she would.