“How are you doing?”
That question never created such a vacuum of indecisiveness as it did just then. I’m fine, but I’m not fine.
I’m a wreck, but holding myself together pretty good. I’m teetering on an edge, so precariously balanced I feel the tension throughout my body. It’s tight. I can continue as I am holding everything together or at any given moment fall apart into uncontrolled weeping.
My grandmother is dead. Not two months ago, we discovered she had cancer. Over the weekend, she was admitted into the hospital with a severe infection the doctors couldn’t bring under control. All her organs began failing rapidly.
I understand sudden death. A crash, a gunshot, the ones that go quickly. It hits you – and hard. Then they’re gone. When you witness the decline, the symptoms, the steady steps of a body failing, it looks so different. It hits different. What do they feel in those final moments? Their body is fighting to survive, keeping everything strung on a frayed thread as they lie there in a comatose state.
She opened her eyes. I didn’t know if it was just the body losing control or if she was really there. She couldn’t speak. But something was wrong. I felt it and I felt I knew what it was too.
“Getting tired of sleeping on that side, Grams? Don’t worry. I’ll ask the nurse to shift you. You’re doing so well. Go back to sleep.”
It was time for her morphine. Pain brought her back to Earth, back to her useless body. The Hospice care aids said she would recognize our voices and touch, but only the family’s. So maybe Grandma was more connected to Earth than we realized. Maybe she was in a difference space – a sort of loading platform with her train peeling off a mournful sound in the distance. She was just waiting to say her last goodbyes.
And she was waiting for Mom – her daughter.
And waiting to get comfortable one last time.
I stood in the hallway with Mom while the nurses shifted Grandma and got her into a mostly upright position. We entered the room. Grandma’s eyes were wide open. I approached to see if she was alert, but these eyes were empty.
Then she looked at Mom. And died.
I never thought death bothered me too much. I have my faith and my God and all that. I guess I’m just angry because we thought we had more time with her. We made plans. She had her health and an active lifestyle. Then, in two months, she was gone.
The trouble with humans is we think we have time.
This has been,