UNITED STATES—My family has been struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, but not like it was in the recent week. I lost my grandfather as a result of COVID-19 and it sickened me to my stomach because he just turned 99 last month, we were hoping he’d make it to 100 so we could throw a massive party to celebrate such a milestone. This man has seen all sorts of chaos and things in his life. Notably, my grandfather was the only person I could recall still living who was a survivor of World War II.

Yes, my grandfather was a war vet, someone who knows what it is like to be thrown out a helicopter, the mayhem of arriving on that beach with enemy guns blasting American soldiers to bits. Yeah, my grandfather could tell you stories that would absolutely haunt you. It is a devastating blow to my family because in all honesty, it could have been prevented, but exposing family drama is the last thing I will do.

My goal here with this column is to honor my grandfather, all he stood for and all that he fought for. This was a wise man, with a sharp mind and someone who even in his late 90s. He was a saver people and knew every single penny to the T in his bank account. He walked with confidence; he could move around faster and better than most people I know who were 50 to 60 years his senior. So imagine my thinking of him being in a hospital bed, alone, suffering and not able to communicate with his family and for people to tell him that all was going to be ok.

It had to be the scariest thing he ever encountered America, it is sad, but it was the reality of the situation. I think that is the thing that tears me up so much. He suffered as a result of COVID-19, and he didn’t have to. Gosh, I would give anything to have just one more meeting with my grandfather. The last time I saw him was back in the summer of 2019 because with COVID-19 erupting in early 2020 it was impossible for me to travel and the notion of me traveling and possibly exposing my grandfather to a deadly illness was something I was NOT willing to do.

Yeah, we talked over the phone, but that is NOT the same as seeing someone in person and touching, hugging and having an honest and engaging conversation. The man knew his stuff and was a standup citizen for his family, he was the patriarch and his family loved him dearly. This has been a bit blow for my father who has lost both of his parents. Now that I think of it, I no longer have any living grandparents.

My mother’s mother and father died when I was kid. So my father’s parents endured and they were married for 75 years. The longest I can think of when it comes to one’s marriage. My father’s mother died back in 2017, and I thought it was a devastating blow for my grandfather, but he endured, he survived and then COVID-19 hit and it took him out in a matter of 2 weeks.

The family is grieving and we’re in the process of planning a funeral and a memorial, God knows I’ve been to way too many funerals in my life and was hoping to NOT have to attend one anytime soon, but here I am. Processing emotions, processing life, processing fate and wondering what my grandfather was thinking during his final moments.

The only thing of solace I can reckon with is the fact that my grandfather is finally reunited with my grandmother. They were separated way too early so now they are reunited and I hope he is watching over his family and proud of the many grandchildren that graced his life. However, it does not change the fact that I wish he was still here.