I am an unlucky man to have crossed the path of death so many times throughout the past few months. I have had many of my loved ones depart this world unexpectedly in such a short period of time. My grandmother (dad’s side) passed away in June, then my uncle (mom’s cousin) followed in October, and now my grandfather (mom’s side) has left me in March. I have felt more sadness and anger within these past few months than I have in my entire life. I have witnessed that life works in mysterious ways and it changes you over time. I have learned a difficult lesson that absolutely anything can happen to anyone at any given time.

My grandfather was an incredible individual who lived an honest life and enjoyed every second to the fullest. Although for most of our years we were separated by oceans and continents, we shared a special bond and I feel privileged to have met such a genuine human being. I had always thought that if anyone was going to live a long life, it was certainly going to be him. My grandfather was an extremely healthy man who exercised daily, ate lots of fruits, and loved to play a game of chess at any time of the day.

The sad truth is that life itself is a game of chess but no matter how hard you play, you will eventually and undoubtedly be checkmated by death. When my grandfather walked out of his house to run an errand, it might have started out as just another ordinary day for him. However, he simply ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not return home that night. He got into an unfortunate accident while riding his scooter in bustling Indian traffic and was taken to a nearby hospital. After enduring head injuries, his condition quickly deteriorated within two weeks before he passed away at the age of 71.

When this news was broken to me, I felt immediate regret and guilt over the fact that I was busy with my studies this past November and I failed to visit him with my parents when they travelled to India. What hurt me further was that he was planning on coming to Canada this summer to visit our family, but now I won’t have the chance to embrace him or play one last game of chess with him again. And now that he is gone, I don’t have a single grandparent left alive who I can talk to or share stories with. Nonetheless, I know that all four of my grandparents are resting in peace now and I look forward to being reunited with them one day when it is my time.

If there is anything I want you to take away from my experiences, it is that you should always stay close with your family and never take them for granted. Send a text to a loved one from time to time. If they happen to live far away from you, talk to them on the phone or video call them, even if it’s just once a month. These small memories will live on forever and you won’t regret being so distant with them when their time is up. I admit that I have broken down many times, but I have also picked myself up with confidence and strength by reminiscing about all of the loving memories I shared with each family member.

The picture that I used for this post is one of my most cherished memories of my grandfather. Back on December 14, 2007, sitting in his presence within his peaceful living room and casually sipping on a cup of tea before getting destroyed by him in game of chess. I will miss all of the times that we had together like this and I will always remember him as a true champion, both in the game and in life.

To end off, I know that this will not be the last time I cross the path of death. Death is like an inevitable and uninvited guest. It will barge through your front door at any time, enter your home without your permission, and take someone away from you forever. But until it is here and the door is still closed, make the most out of your time, love your family dearly, and continue to maintain strong relationships for life.