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What is the purpose of life? 

All the things that I am currently doing, is there any real point to it?

When I am at the end of my life, will I even care?

Will any of it matter at all?

I sit on the hard chair and watch my grandmother, asleep in her bed, as I contemplate life’s philosophical questions. As my gaze drifts to the retro brown and orange furniture, floral patterns and an excess of ceramic trinkets, I am transported back 20 years ago to a different lifetime. A time of contagious joy, laughter and love. Nothing has changed.

Except her.

At 92 years old, my grandmother was the epitome of spirit and spunk. Always laughing, with her bold red lips, rings on every finger, open sandals in 10cm of snow, and a will of steel to live life on HER terms instead of what society dictated. Her nickname throughout the community was “Fashionable Grandma”. My source of inspiration, my confidante, my second mother for the last 32 years.

But now, she lay almost lifeless. Unable to even hold a cup or turn over.

4 years ago, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. At 90 years old, she managed to survive a massive heart attack, stage 3 congestive heart failure, and major surgery to resection her intestine. But don’t think for a second that this made her forget her lipstick or hair dye. No, no, no. She would assertively remind us that she was not dead yet. That life is made for living.

Despite facing numerous hardships throughout her life, including the death of her first child and husband, and being a single mother to 4 kids under 7, adversity NEVER brought her (or her fashion sense) down.

Then all of a sudden, within the span of a couple week, everything changed. Her lips are pale, fingers bare, and body limp from the excruciating pain. She no longer eats and can barely speak.

As I am transported back into present day reality, I see her glazed eyes watching me. Barely open, filled with sorrow and exhausted of this life.

Thoughts and emotions flood my mind. Utter sadness from knowing that in a few short moments, the woman I love so much, who raised me alongside my mother will leave this world. Extreme guilt, from not having spent enough time with her in the last few years. But most of all, I am confused.

Again, the questions that plague me, overcome my thoughts:

What is the purpose of life?

All the things that I am currently doing, is there any real point to it?

When I am at the end of my life, will I even care?

Will any of it matter at all?

As I watch her fade away, my mind fast-forwards to a moment when it will be my time to leave this world. I fall into an existential crisis as I ponder over every aspect of my life. When I think about the world as a whole and everything that’s wrong with it, my actions and efforts feel so minute and insignificant.

What is the point of building my business? Of fashion? Makeup? Having so many kids? Art? Learning multiple languages?

The time and energy I am pouring into these things, is there any good purpose?

Will any of it even matter in the end.

My thoughts float from my own life to my grandmother’s. A woman whose whole life revolved around housework, having babies, raising them, then looking after her grandchildren. She never had an important career or significant social status. The amount of work she put into looking so chic, travelling, being a social butterfly, did any of it matter today? What there any real purpose to her life?

And then it hit me. Yes, it did matter. All of it. It mattered a lot actually.

Because she has touched the lives of so many people just by being herself. Through her incredible boldness, positivity, courage and determination to life on HER terms and kick cultural and societal expectations to the curb, she has been an incredible inspiration to countless people.

I know, because I am one of them.

I finally came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter WHAT I am doing in my life, but the effect of my actions on those around me. That my actions are making a positive impact and inspiring all the people that come in and out of my life.

As I watch her children and countless others whose lives she impacted, surrounding her, I realize that what makes life meaningful is the love we share with others, in whatever form or experience that may be. And to love everyone no matter their shape, size, colour or creed. But as she taught me, that to be able to share my love with others, I must love myself first.

So yes, in answer to my own question, everything that I am doing matters as long as I am doing them while improving myself and adding to the lives of others. And that may look very different for each person. That is the purpose of life. 

She sadly passed away On February 8th, 2019, after living a long fruitful life. But although her physical being has left this world, her spirit and the lessons she taught me will live on forever in my heart.

Thank you, Grandma, for all the love you showered upon me, all my secrets you kept, and the special place you gave me in your heart. I know those times are over now, but you have inspired me to take care of myself, stay strong and fight with every ounce of strength for what I believe in. 

That I can inspire countless others just by being me.

It hurts so much to see you go, but even harder to watch you suffer like so.

I will never forget your shining eyes, or love-filled voice that comforted my cries

Although I’m losing my best best friend, You will reside in my heart until my end

You gave me hope and courage every day, that I am beautiful and priceless despite what they say

I promise to continue blazing your trail, To inspire strength in others every day without fail

Though I’ve lost so much, and my heart feels bare, thank you for all the love, stories and laughter you shared

Goodbye for now, this is not the end. But until then, my love and prayers I send

Dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Irisharde Ishmael, 7-19-1926 to 2-8-2019.

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