Nothing is more comforting than knowing that I kissed my grandfather and told him "See you later" before I got ready to leave for my senior year at school. I didn't know that about a week or two later, I'd be receiving the phone call from my oldest sister saying that he had passed away.

I never knew how much my grandfather's death would affect me. I knew he was older, so it wasn't as if his homecoming was completely unexpected, but I never rehearsed how I would respond. I didn't know I would be as heartbroken.

Heartbroken because he was my only living grandparent and the only one that I was able to have a lasting relationship with. Heartbroken because my mother was by his side, night and day, for about eight years, and she had to now deal with such a drastic lifestyle change and the passing of her daddy. 

It was a lot to think about at the start of such a stressful senior year, and I'm not sure I knew how to deal with it. A lot of things seemed to be happening at once.

My landlord and property management company were wronging me (pest infestation, lack of hot water, etc.) and ignoring multiple requests of mine for over a month. A professor of mine forced me to drop her class (although I was completing all of her assignments) because I had to miss a class in order to take care of things with my dreadful apartment and property management company. This was way past the "Add" deadline, and I was lucky enough to be enrolled in enough credits. I have to graduate next semester. What if I wasn't?

 But anyway, I say this to say that I got through it. I have a much better apartment and a more understanding landlord now. I am enrolled in enough courses. I am learning to heal and come to terms with the passing of my grandfather. When I woke up in the morning, felt glued to my bed, and didn't want to go on, I didn't think things would get better. But they did, and they will.

My journey at Cornell has been one of the most difficult that I have experienced in my life, but I am convinced that it is all preparation and strength-building. I know in my heart that there are bigger and better things to come that I could not experience without experiencing the things that I am going through today.

Optimism isn't my expertise, but I'm trying. That's all that we can do. So to you, I say: stay strong and keep on swimmin'. Sometimes our only choice is to just tread water for a while, and that's okay.

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