We plan, God laughs, right? Or, so the saying goes. In so many ways, 2017 was off to an amazing start. I spent most days with a big smile on my face, feeling over the moon happy about my life. A month ago, I wrote a post catching up on life. I shared that I was excited to get back to consistency in my writing and in my running, especially since I have a couple spring races on the calendar. Two days later, my world started to crumble. I got a phone call from my mom in the middle of a work event. Grandma fell. She and my uncle were taking her to the ER.
It’s a really long story about how we got from that fall to saying goodbye, but in less than a month, that’s exactly what happened. And, on April 8, 2017, I said one last goodbye to my beloved grandma. I was sitting with her, alone in the Hospice room that had come to feel oddly comfortable, one hand holding hers and the other stroking her hair. I talked about my plans for that night to go see some live music and have a drink. A toast to you, Grandma, I promised. As I rambled on, I watched her take her last breath.
My heart broke into a million pieces in that moment. It felt selfish, in one way, to be talking about going out that night while she was literally dying in front of me. Yet, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s knowing her family is okay to continue living, even without her, that gave her peace. In truth, there’s no way to know if she heard anything I was saying in that moment. But, I have to believe she did.
I can understand in my head that she was ready, that she was at peace. But, my heart has yet to be in that same place of acceptance. The first week she was in Hospice, I was able to take the week off from work. I spent my days with her and my family. In the more lucid hours, we shared memories with her. In other hours, we talked amongst ourselves. There were moments of laughter and of tears. As much as those final days were heartbreaking, I think she would be happy knowing the way we came together and cared for each other.
I don’t know that I can ever find the words to express how much this woman means to me. My grandma is, without a doubt, a large part of why I am the woman I am today. Through her words and example, she taught me so much. She was the ultimate example of strength, and exuded kindness and positivity from the core of her being. She showed me the importance of family, for she was happiest when those she loved were with her. In the later years of life, her hearing was poor, at best. At family events, I know she couldn’t hear much of what was going on around her, but she was content to simply be. In a world full of uncertainty, her love for me is something I never questioned. I hope that she knew the same to be true of my love for her.
As devastated as I am right now, I find so much peace in knowing that she is no longer hurting. I celebrate that she is reunited with her husband, whom she lived without for 65 years. I had her for 33 years of my life, and I am forever grateful for all the memories, both big and small. Everything from family vacations to literally watching her lick her dessert plate clean at Thanksgiving dinner a couple years ago. Although I know the memories will fade in time, I cling tightly to what I have in my heart today.
I love you so much, Grandma. Thank you for everything.