I always expected summer break to be different. I pictured myself running through some magical, flowery field after being set free from finals. I expected to finally have the time to reconnect with friends after the long semester that made me miss them more. I expected to go to the (actual) beach everyday and work on my tan. I expected to do all the normal summer lounging about laying in bed all day (at least once in a while). The thing I didn’t expect was the death of my grandmother. She was 82. She had a long life, filled with her passions and us, her family. But that didn’t change how it feels to know that she is gone. The fact that she had suffered for 10 years prior with Alzheimer’s Disease, made me in a way grateful for her passing, since it eases that suffering. It frees her from it in a way. At the same time, even with a ten-year warning in advance, I was shocked, inexplicably shocked, by her death. She died 13 days ago.
Part of the reason why I got into Hopkins, and why I also had such a drive to be the best I can be, is the inheritance of this strength from those who came before me. My grandma is one of these people. She was born in Colombia, and after the death of her mother, was passed around between her older sisters to be raised in a hot-potato fashion. She rose up from her difficulties growing up, and got a scholarship to go to college in America. She got her four-year degree and met my grandfather. They moved to Cuba, but then also had to leave in 1960 to escape Fidel’s reign. They moved to Miami. Eventually she had both my Tia, and later my dad. However, despite their adherence to the American dream, of finding jobs, owning a little house, and making a family, times were hard for my grandmother. She was now caught in an abusive relationship with my grandfather and two kids to take care of. But she made the brave choice to divorce him, to lead her own life as a single mother. At the time, in the 1980s, such a move was unprecedented and it did not necessarily have the best connotations, either religiously or socially. But she had the strength to see her way through it, to make it on her own.
I always find her strength to be so inspiring. Until the very end she was strong, she never gave up. And from her, I try to find that in myself. I strive to have the courage and the confidence she walked through life with. Especially now, I need it more than ever without her.