Personal Essay #5 – Meghan Geary



“Meghan, go play piano for us, please.'

“But, Dad…'




I reluctantly rose up from the dinner table and mosied my way into our living room. I hated playing piano when I was told, rather than on my own time, and he knew that. I suppose that was my grandmother’s stubbornness shining through her baby girl. The remains of stuffing and potatoes were scattered along the table which was littered with dirty plates. The smell of honey ham and wine still lingered in the air. It danced up to my nostrils, making them tingle with delight. I plopped down on my piano bench, and my fingers instinctively began tickling the ivories I knew so well. I played for about ten minutes before I made it to the song Green sleeves. I reached out to begin to play, but was interrupted by my Aunt Pat’s concerned voice.


“Mom.  Mom?... MOM!'


Her voice was calm at first, but it grew more hysteric as she continued to call to my grandmother. I knew something was wrong. Grandma had always been there for me; since the day I was born, I was always her little girl. She was the first one to hold me in the hospital when I entered the world, even before my own mother, and she took part in raising me while my Mom and Dad were at work. She was endlessly supportive and loving toward me. Life was full of grilled cheese sandwiches and Little Bear tea parties, and car rides where I held her cold hands and she told me those who have “cold hands have a warm heart'. By this time, I had risen tentatively from my seat and proceeded to creep into the dining room. My brain was running frantically, trying to come up with reason for the shock that you could feel in the air. No longer was the air full of laughter, or the smell of wine lingering. Now, fear was present.

My Grandma was slumped over on my Dad’s shoulder. Her eyes were closed, and she looked like she was taking a nap, but she wasn’t breathing. My brain went from confused, into overdrive, and then shut down completely. My first thought when I regained consciousness from my momentary black out was, “Oh my God, she’s dead. On Christmas day, with my family here, in my dining room.' My Mom’s voice interrupted my thoughts and thrust me back into reality. “It’ll be okay, Meghan, don’t worry.' she tried to tell me. I suppose I looked like I wasn’t in the mood to listen, because she fell silent, and after a few long moments, walked away. I was like a mime; words wouldn’t come, but my expression told how I was feeling. My Aunt Pat was hysterical, frantically dialing 911, while also trying to hold back tears so she could speak. Other than her and me, everyone seemed normal: concerned... but not frantic. My Aunt announced that the paramedics were on their way, and I turned my attention back to my Grandma. I noticed how pale and delicate she looked. She was a withering flower; her last petal about to fall off. It was terrifying to think that one of the most influential people in my life could be dying right in front of me. My tears began to roll down my cheeks, and they seemed endless.

Mere moments passed, but it seemed like an eternity.

“Let’s go for a walk. I need to flag down the paramedics, and you look like you really need to get out of the house'

“Oh, uhh, sure, I guess that’d be nice', I replied.


My cousin Joe and I marched awkwardly out of the house and started down my driveway. We didn’t talk, but it was a comfortable silence. We simply kept each other company. I was glad to be out of the house, but my mind was swarmed with worry. The trudge down my driveway felt like it went on forever. When we reached the bottom of my driveway, I finally broke the silence.


“Joe... Do you think Grandma will be okay?'


He hesitated for a moment, but what he said in reply are words I will never forget.


“Meghan', he said. “No matter what happens, Grandma’ll be okay.'


The paramedics arrived about two minutes later, loaded her onto the ambulance, and we all piled in cars to spend the rest of Christmas day in the hospital by her side. Those eight words my cousin spoke to me that day really made me think. That day I learned just how quickly everything can slip away from you, but that there is always a plan. No matter what, everything happens for a reason; either way, we will all be okay. My grandmother has since passed, but she taught me to live every day like it’s my last and not have any regrets. Our time on this Earth is short, and we should enjoy every minute of it.


11 thoughts on “Personal Essay #5 – Meghan Geary

  1. Tometria Jackson

    I liked your tone throughout this piece, Meghan. It captured the feelings, thoughts, and reactions of a young girl and how she processed a frightening experience. Your description of the fear that invaded the happy Christmas dinner was like you had described an unwelcome guest who had invaded your home. The imagery you created when you described your grandmother as a withering flower whose last petal was about to fall off was quite lovely and captured her fragility perfectly. Your concluding paragraph neatly ties up the lessons you learned from the experience of almost losing your grandmother, the wisdom of your uncle, and how you live your life today.

    My only criticism about your piece is, I wish you had given it a title, but overall, I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Delaney E Reece

    I personally really connected with how you introduced us to your grandmother. My grandmother also was a huge part in raising me, and I could feel deep in my own heart what you felt that day. I loved your use of dialogue, and the structure which you wrote it in made everything easy to stay on track and engaged in your story. I was hanging on your every word and when things ended, I was scrolling down to find more. I wish things had gone on longer, I would have loved to hear more about you grandmother, maybe a story from your childhood or an example of how she is stubborn like you.
    Thank you so much, I loved every moment

  3. Kelsey

    I loved that you started your piece with a conversation. I think that really draws the audience in. Your descriptive details are great! I knew it was Christmas or a major holiday celebration from your descriptions of the smells in the air. The message your story had was good, but I think it felt a little short. I would have liked to hear more about what happened to your grandmother or the time in the hospital. Overall, it was a capturing piece to read and a great start!

  4. Kait

    Your story was so full of detail it made me feel like I was there, listening to you play the piano and smelling everything from the dinner. Your connection with your grandmother sounds so loving, also what your cousin Joe said was so touching, it caught me off guard in a good way. I really like how the flow of you’re writing is smooth and the dialogue is in the right places. Maybe you can come up with a title then this would be a really good piece of writing.

  5. Courtney Kisner

    I enjoyed much of the imagery you gave the reader throughout. I especially liked the opening when you went down to sit at the piano. I could practically smell the ham and the wine in the air right there with you. I also really liked when you said your brain was, “trying to come up with a reason for the shock that you could feel in the air,” because it was a great, simple way to describe that feeling as your brain tries to rush to catch up. I think this piece needs more detail through the middle and the end. Giving the reader some of your grandmother’s personality would help us connect more emotionally with the piece, whether it be through a story or some small details from the past. The piece ended nicely, but I almost felt like it ended a bit too nicely for how heavy the rest of the essay was. The ending was good, it just felt like you rushed to get there.

  6. Benjamin Hayward

    Wow. The last thing your grandmother heard was your sweet music. That’s amazing. Now about your writing. I have nothing negative. The tenses matched. You told your story in a past memory, but walked us through it with the sights, smells, and sounds. We were there with you, but in the past. I didn’t have to go back and read something to figure out what connection is missed.

    Smooth easy reading.

  7. Lilia Lundquist

    This story had great organization, I could honestly feel the transition from one emotion to the next. I especially liked when you compared your grandmother to a delicate flower. The language used really brought the story to life. I did find it to be a bit short, I would have liked to be able to be taken away to your moments after or how things changed after this event. I am sorry you had to experience this not only on a holiday but just in such a traumatic way. You have a very vivid style of writing, I would love to read more!

  8. nmfleming

    This story is wonderful but very sad. I really liked how you ended your story, to me it really tied everything together. You didn’t just tell me a story about how your grandmother died to me you were telling me a story about how your grandmother’s death changed how you live now. There was something that I noticed about this story that bothered me was the line “Let’s go for a walk. I need to flag down the paramedics, and you look like you really need to get out of the house.” If I had stopped reading there I would have never known that it was your cousin that had spoken to you. There were no indicators in the sentence before or the sentence after that one. Other than that one thing, I found your story to be very wonderful and well put together.

  9. Brenden Couch

    absolutely wonderful story. I like your concluding message. I know it really seems hard to imagine that life is short but I keep hearing it from my elders that time passes so quickly when your old. I guess the old would know best.

  10. Jess Young

    Thank you for your words, Meghan! Your description of this Christmas day was descriptive and inviting. By the time I had finished reading, I felt like I had been there with you. Keep writing, this was excellent work.

  11. Shana Waring

    The body of your story was descriptive and set the scene well. I was able to feel the emotions of each of your characters and felt like I was seeing the events unfold from the perspective of a younger me. I felt like the transitions from character to character and object to object were done in a way the event felt like it was happening right now. The beginning was a bit difficult to get through to really pull me in. Maybe the commentary, to begin with, was something that left the story to be explained to the reader rather than allowing the reader to place themselves in it.

Comments are closed.