Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had in recent memory. Not that his year has been a cake walk, but yesterday was the cherry on top.
Yesterday afternoon my beautiful grandmother passed away after fighting a very sudden illness. She had been cleared for lung cancer after undergoing surgery to remove it about two weeks ago. She had a chest tube in place for the recovery process that subsequently became infected. She became septic after entering the hospital on Friday and sometime on Saturday stopped responding to medicine and also just stopped responding. The medicine kept her body alive long enough for her daughter to fly in to say goodbye. She passed peacefully Sunday afternoon surrounded by her family, myself included.
When I found out how bad the situation was on Saturday night, I drove right to the hospital with my mom and stayed until about three in the morning. Other members of my family had been there all evening and some even stayed overnight into Sunday. This outpouring of love and togetherness was something my grandmother would have loved. She was always trying to get us all together. Her soul must have been singing to see us all together, hugging and sharing memories.
I don’t handle death well. I know that nobody really claims to handle it well, but I’ve always struggled since I was a little girl. When I was about 11 my aunt and uncle died nine hours apart. They were brother and sister, two separate causes. Michael had been battling cancer for over a year and Debbie died suddenly after a three day down hill battle with heart attack after heart attack, what we learned later were linked to a rare type of cancer. That sudden loss pulled my heart to pieces. And seeing my grandmother suddenly laid out in a hospital bed brought all of these memories flooding back.
How can this be happening? Why is it happening so fast? She’s not done living yet. Grandma? What about grandpa? Wake up. You aren’t done. We aren’t done loving you here yet. Heaven can wait.
I stood by her side, holding her cool hand when my grandfather came up next to me. “Hey poo butt, thanks for coming. She’s not doing too well. I think she’s going to leave us soon.” My grandfather is the single cutest person in the world, all curly hair and loving heart. He leaned in to his wife and said, “Hey sweetie, Emma’s here. You look so good, sweetie. Emma’s gonna talk to you now.” He kissed her cheek and my cheek ripped in two, torn by a glass tear.
I cried hard and long. I apologized for not seeing her as much as I should, for fighting with her, for what was happening to her. I asked if she was ok leaving. I told her grandpa Frank would be taken care of. I told her how lucky she was to have the life she did. I told her it was ok to leave. I pinched her arm on the off chance she’d wake up to swat my hand away. I told her how sweet Frank was being to her. I told her about the boy I love and asked for any sort of cosmic help she could supply to help us out. Then I just cried and waited to be led away.
Even as we walked back to the waiting room, I couldn’t get myself together. My mom went into the room with my other family as I tore off into a corner to let my heart scream. I thought of my Aunt, my grandmother, my uncle. But then I thought of the people left behind. How small my Grandpa looked, how much he loved her. How helpless it must make someone to watch the person you love most slip out of your hands. I missed them all then. But I could feel my aunt beside me, my grandmother too. I shut off the tears, fixed my hair, and went back to my family.
As much as a trauma like this sucks, I adore watching people come together in crisis. Priorities change and what really matters is all that remains, as cliche as it is. Sunday morning, more of my family had arrived and each husband held his wife. Each brother laughed with each sister. Each parent wiped a child’s tear. You could feel each soul reach out and grab another’s hand.
I sat with my cousins on the couch in my grandmother’s room, watching her body breathe, knowing her soul was just hovering above her, smiling at us all. Her best friend’s came to visit her. Her sweet grey friend hugged her and whispered, “Hello my friend. I’m so sorry to see you go. I love you, my friend.” We all talked to her one more time before standing in a shaking circle, feeding each other tears and hope as the machines were turned off as my grandfather stroked her forehead. “Goodbye my sweetheart, I’ll see you soon.” He backed away while the wires were untangled and suddenly grabbed the doctor’s arm. “I know we have to leave the room so she can get cleaned up, but I’d like one more kiss.”
One more kiss.
I couldn’t process the idea of never being able to kiss your love again. I can’t process it. It’s what hurts the most. I saw loving hands tighten on shoulders as the thought sank in. I wished my love was near me so I could squeeze his hand too. Soon, I hope.
After we left and my grandma’s room was emptied of beeping and buzzing lights, we came back in to say goodbye. I approached her bed and my grandpa cut in front of me and grabbed my hand. “Sweetie, Emma’s back to say goodbye. You look good.” He kissed her forehead. “I’ll see you soon.” I rubbed his back, rubbed my grandma’s arm, but couldn’t squeak anything out of my mouth.
In the hall, my family remained in a group around my grandfather. It was like a group of emperor penguins keeping the smallest and coldest in the center for protection and warmth. Funerals were arranged and hugs were plentiful. My grandpa told us what a blessing this was, for us to be here together. He thanked us for the support and hugged us each goodbye.
I got home and slept hard and deep for hours. I had one dream. I dreamt of calling up the man I love and talking and laughing. I woke up in silence. As the night wore on, I grew brave. I dialed the number.
Please please please hug your loved ones. Life changes so fast. Always be honest with your feelings and never EVER hide them because you never know when that Sunday dinner will be your last one. Never stay angry, never stay distant. Kiss your loved ones every day. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith or make a random phone call. Take chances. Believe. Laugh often and lean on family and friends. Don’t be afraid to love hard. Don’t be afraid of staying in love, never letting it go. Your heart knows better than you do.
Love each other, my lovelies.
Send out good thoughts.
|Rest now, grandma. We love you.|