I feared death until someone close to me passed away. My grandma was 86, capable of living a few extra years, but she was in such agony that the doctor recommended we put her out right away. I watched in solemn reticence as she slowly had her life drained. This took a few days and she was wide awake for the duration of it. My cousin Maggie and I witnessed my grandma’s last gasps, incapable of higher consciousness except her fight to breathe. During this time, I’d like to believe she somewhat recognized us. My grandma and I were very close.

She’s been in my heart every day.

I don’t miss Grandma in the usual sense — long before her death, she was changed by severe dementia. She’d forget things in ten minutes intervals. I had accepted that the sassy, tough woman I knew and love was already gone. Her death, however, had taught me that people don’t end. All the crap I heard about appreciating people before they’re gone are a bunch of fear mongering. People are special because they’re memories and memories last a lifetime. I’d feared death because I saw it as a finality, but it’s more like a favorite movie. I can replay it over and over again.

Life isn’t about how long it lasts. It’s immortal by the time you’re alive. That’s the beauty of everything — things do last forever. When I can accurately predict what my grandma would say in any situation, she feels like she’s in every situation. We’re constantly concerned about afterlives and heaven and hell, but that’s seeing things in a place reference. Our existence is a time reference. This is what opened my eyes from my grandma’s death. We’re all immortal because we live permanently in a time stream. We shouldn’t fear death. It gives life context.

You can’t miss someone who’s never left.