In Memorial

Bad News

When last I wrote it seemed as things were looking up, and that my grandmother was improving.  So I got up yesterday morning thinking this, and as I went through training I kept expecting to get a text giving me a status update on how thing were going.  I had just finished eating lunch at Chipotle when I got a text from my father.  Now normally my dad is jovial at all times, but this one was rather somber saying only “call me as soon as you can”.  When I saw it, my heart sank because I was pretty sure what was going to say.  Sure enough when I went outside to call back he said “grandma is no longer with us.”

Things were in fact going as planned yesterday.  She was visibly improving, and they had taken the ventilator and feeding tube out.  She seemed to be breathing on her own just fine for a bit, but then apparently her blood pressure shot up rapidly and she suffered a heart attack.  Apparently there is only roughly an 11% chance that a young and healthy patient is going to make it back from going “code blue”.  However when it is someone who is either very sick or very old, it is almost futile.  My grandmother unfortunately was both sick and old, and even though they tried to revive her there just wasn’t really a chance.

A Normal Life

After she had passed the doctors said that she was never going to have a normal life again.  This had been a fact that apparently no one shared with us, or at least not the right people at the right time.  Apparently it was highly unlikely that she would have ever left the hospital and returned to normal life after what she had been though.  She would have been in some form of a medical assisted situation from that point on.  She had already been tied to an oxygen tank for several years, and as much as she hated that…  she would not have tolerated more very well.

I don’t believe they had fully roused her from sedation yet when it happened.  So I hope that means she went relatively peacefully.  She had been “under” since last Friday evening when they did so to try and force her to rest.  As a result the majority of this week she has been sleeping relatively peacefully.  I am very thankful that I spent the time with her Friday, holding her hand and letting her lean against me as she struggled to breathe.  While she shifted in and out of lucidity, I know there were moments that she knew very much that I was there.  I got to spend at least a few moments with my grandmother before they put her under.

Bereavement Special

The thing is… I have been through so many deaths in the family at this point that I end up falling into funeral mode.  On the way up to my home town we stopped in at the grocery store to purchase what I jokingly refer to as the “bereavement special”.  People bring you all sorts of stuff when there has been a death in the family, but no one ever thinks to bring the most important thing… toilet paper.  So when there has been a death in my family or someone else’s I tend to bring a package of basics… because those are almost always the first things to go.  So last night I gathered up Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Napkins, Disposable plates, cups and silverware and a huge box of trash bags.

The hardest thing about last night is realizing that this is likely going to be the last big family get together.   My grandmother was the glue on my mothers side of the family.  Her house as the focal point of the holidays.  When my grandmother on the other side passed away several years ago, we watched as slowly any semblance of a holiday fell apart.  While I realize that I will still have the holidays with my parents, gone will be the big gatherings.  My generation is really not as close knit as the older ones, and while I get along fine with my cousins… we all have our own lives and things to do.  We rarely make the time to get together in any fashion, even though the majority of us all live within an hour of each other.  So this funeral may be the last time I see some of them until the next funeral.

Haunting Malaise

In all honesty, it really has not hit me yet.  I am so amazingly thankful for my friends and the insane outpouring of support that I have received so far.  You guys are all amazing, and I love you all dearly.  Right now I think my body is in mental shock, and at some point I will absolutely lose my shit.  I am not sure if it will be before or after the funeral, but for my Grandmother on my dads side it started during the funeral and continued on for a few days.  Honestly that death was the beginning of a downward emotional spiral, and I am hoping that I can stave that off this time.  I was in a really bad place mentally after that death, and I am hoping I can go into this one knowing that is a possibility and keep it from happening.

In part that one was towards the end of this insane streak of deaths in the family, and I think I just couldn’t take any more.  There was a period of time where over the course of 5-6 years we lost 14-15 family members.  I think I have mostly recovered from that, and I handled the death of my Grandfather okayish, and that has been about two years ago.  I guess in a way I am thankful that I saw her last Saturday.  At that point they had put in the ventilator and fully sedated her, and she was just lying there peacefully hooked up to all these machines.  It was at that point that it entered my mind that it was possible she would never make it out of that bed.  I have had the better part of a week to chew on that image in the back of my head.  Right now I think I am in a better place to deal with her being gone than I would have on last Friday, when everything was immediate and fresh.

My Childhood

No matter how prepared I am, this is going to hurt a lot.  My earliest memories from childhood are from my Grandmothers house.  My mom went back to work pretty quickly after my birth, so from infant on I spent every single day with my grandma and grandpa.  There are so many stories of me as a child, and at this point I find it hard to sort out the ones I actually remember and the ones that have been recreated in my memory based on the stories of others.  I do however remember laying on the floor in front of the television watching Mr. Rogers, and doodling.  I remember running around her house with a towel safety pinned around my neck as a cape.  I remember my grandfather chasing me around the house with a cattle prod, and me hiding behind grandmas legs for protection.  It was years later that I found out that the cattle prod he was using was completely broken, and he was making the buzzing sound with his mouth.

So much of myself I owe to my grandmother.  I am pretty certain that my love of games in general comes from her.  Every single day, for hours on end she would sit at the table playing solitaire.  Sometimes she and I would play candy land together, or trouble… to the point where both boards were completely worn out.  She was my caretaker and my constant companion as a little boy.  Hell the fact that I don’t use a recipe when I cook is almost certainly directly tied to her.  She was one of those rocks that you can place your world on as stable and unchanging.  I miss her so much already, not having her around is going to be hell.  I’m getting emotional writing this, and I have to go to training yet today so I am going to cut it off here.  Thanks again for all the support, I greatly value each of you in my “internet family”.

6 thoughts on “In Memorial

  1. It’s tough. My family went through a similar series of losses in my teens. I lost a close aunt, two of my grandparents, a first cousin. By the time my brother died in 2008, not a lot of people were left in my family (we’re small on both sides).

    I’ve always been closest to my mom. Other than her, I am fairly estranged from the family I do have left. I’m not even close with my father. When I found out mom had cancer late last year, I was pretty devastated. Without her, my ties to family are mostly gone.

    She’s doing better and hanging in there, but as much a blessing as it has been to be able to be at home with her, it’s also a curse. That slow downward spiral toward the end plays out over and over, forcing me to remind myself each day what I will eventually lose.

    As tough as it is, you’ve got to hold onto what you had, force a smile, and keep walking. It’s not easy. Some days it won’t be possible. It is never fair. What you have to do never changes, so at least there is some comfort in that simple truth!

    Let us know if you need e-hugs! I’m like a b3ar: I’ll squeeze the 1’s and 0’s out of you.
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  2. Sorry for your loss. I went through something near identical a few years back and it turned into a watershed moment for me. Hopefully you can find some good when it’s all done.

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