It's easy to answer this prompt. My grandmother passed away yesterday (part of why I took a break from the challenge for the past few days). She had a stroke late Thursday evening and was not responsive. Fortunately we already had plans to go up to Atlanta this weekend to see my niece for her birthday. We went up as planned and visited my niece on Saturday. The whole time we were checking for updates from my aunt and grandpa. Saturday morning I was told they were going to take her off life support. At this time they left the ventilator in, but allowed her to breathe on her own. The ventilator was there in case she needed it. The doctors determined that the whole left side of her brain was irreparably damaged from swelling. This means she was paralyzed on the right side of her body, she was unable to speak, and would likely not remember or recognize any of us. She did wake up on Saturday and was somewhat responsive, but the damage was still too much for her to sustain life on her own, and she was under a lot of pain and stress. They decided to fully remove life support Sunday and move her to hospice. I'm very thankful I was in Atlanta because I was able to go visit her on Sunday afternoon. She was asleep, but was not in pain. She didn't know I was there, but it was good for me to see her one last time and say goodbye. We headed back home yesterday afternoon with the doctors saying she could last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple weeks. We got the call last night around 8:30 PM that she passed.
|My brother ushering Grandma to her seat at my wedding. 2009|
To be honest, I was strangely calm through most of it. She was such a good, strong Christian woman. I have no doubts that she is in Heaven now. And that thought was comforting through the whole ordeal. While she was not terminally ill prior to the stroke, she had been suffering from a very painful spinal condition and was destined to live the rest of her life in pain, with limited mobility. I know she was hurting and often frustrated by her condition. And I felt such peace thinking that all that was over for her.
But then I started thinking about everyone else. And that's really the hardest part. I'm not really sad for Grandma, I'm sad for everyone else. I'm sad for my Grandpa who said goodbye to the love of his life for the past 57 years. I'm sad for my dad and aunts who said goodbye to their mom. It hurts to see others hurting. And of course it makes me think of what it will be like to lose those people in my life...my mom, my spouse... And I go to that place that no one really should but I think we all do when someone dies...regret. My Grandma and I were never particularly close. I'm not really sure why. It's not that I disliked her. On the contrary, I loved her. But we didn't talk much, even when I visited. And now I'm sorry that I didn't reach out to her more, that I didn't try to get to know her better. I know she was an awesome woman from all the stories I've heard about her, like living in Africa on mission trips for years. And I hope she knows I loved her, and didn't misread my distance for something it wasn't.
Last night all these thoughts came rushing at me and I couldn't stop crying. What really broke my calm was having my brother call me to ask what was going on...he had only gotten bits and pieces through it b/c he doesn't have a cell phone right now. I had to tell him she had passed away. He was shocked and upset. After that I didn't stop crying for about an hour or so.
Today as I go through my workday, I feel like there are tears waiting on the other side of my eyes...just threatening to break through at the slightest prompting. Even though I wasn't super close with my Grandma, and I certainly didn't interact with her during a regular, routine day, I feel like the world is a little emptier without her now. I feel like I'm walking around with something missing. The world definitely lost an incredible woman last night, but she is now with Jesus, no longer in pain, probably dancing or jumping or something she hasn't been able to do in a while. And that makes me smile and keeps those tears at bay. And for that I'm thankful.