Smoking Essay, Research Paper
I sat in my chair, rigid, not knowing what to feel. Everyone around me was crying, but there were no tears on my cheek. Sobbing, they all walked by him; in groups they discussed how good he looked. I didn’t understand. The rituals, the talk, the crying, it was all too much for me. I just sat there, silent, taking it all in. It took all my courage, but I got up. I walked slowly and apprehensively to the altar, and with downcast eyes set my sight upon the casket below.
My grandfather, lying before me, was dead.
It started months before; he had trouble breathing. The doctors said it was due to emphysema. But if he would stop smoking, he may live 20 more years. Thoughts were running through my mind. I whispered to myself, “Stop smoking, just stop smoking those darn cigarettes.”
How could they be more important than his family? Did he not know how much we cared about him?
He did not stop. He did not get better. Instead, he got lung cancer. But if he had stopped smoking then and gone through radiation treatments, the doctors said, he would have lived for at least 10 more years.
There was a time when my grandfather did get better. We flew to Pennsylvania to visit him. He looked so much smaller than I had remembered. His grandfatherly “pot belly” was gone, and his cheeks were sunken in. My grandfather, once a strong and independent man, was now slow and feeble. There were tubes connected on one end to a huge oxygen tank, and the other to his nose to help him breath. They were like chains, following him wherever he went. As glad as I was to be able to see him, I hated seeing him like this.
Looking back now, I see how pleased he was to be able to have these moments with his family, but at the time I couldn’t relax and enjoy being with him. Those thoughts kept running through my mind, and I whispered silently to myself “Stop smoking, just stop smoking those darn cigarettes.”
After a week we went home. Then one day, a few months later, my parents were home when I returned from school. Stepping off the bus and seeing both their cars made my stomach do flip-flops, and I rushed in to see what was the matter. My grandfather was in the hospital again. The tumors had spread during this “well” time.
To this day I have never seen my mother more upset. What could I say to my own mother when nothing could fix the wrong? She, who has always been the one to say that everything was going to be OK, now needed me to do the same, and I couldn’t because it wouldn’t be OK, and there was nothing I could do …
I was still standing in front of his casket when my mother tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was all right. I nodded and quickly returned to my seat. Shortly after the priest came, and there was a short prayer service. However, my mind was elsewhere — thinking about the times my grandfather held me on his lap and called me “Sara-Dara,” the times he helped me climb the big tree in the back yard. All the things we used to do together were flashing through my mind. But I did not cry.
The next day at the funeral, I said goodbye. My family had asked me to play my flute at the service. During Mass, after Communion, I played Going Home for my grandfather. It was the most pure sound, and it echoed throughout the old stone church. I wanted to scream when I was through, but I just thought and whispered, “Stop smoking, just stop smoking those darn cigarettes.”