I had my first encounter with death when I was in the fifth grade.
My family had moved from South Dakota to Northern Virginia when I was in the fourth grade. This was difficult for me because most of my mother’s family lived in South Dakota. I had grown up very close to them – especially Grandma and Grandpa. It was especially difficult to leave them.
I’ll never forget the day my father came to pick me up early from school. I thought it must be some kind of surprise! But he hardly said a word on the ride home. As I walked into the kitchen, I saw my mother there crying. She pulled me over and then said the words: “Grandma fell asleep and didn’t wake up. She’s gone.”