Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's the waiting...

Okay, so like four days ago the whole family is in an uproar because they were all convinced that grandma was going to die that night. Things did not look good and the masses were sitting around her bed counting her breaths. A little morbid - glad I live 600 miles away. Can anyone really die peacefully with all that crying and hovering? I don't think I could. I think that even if I were in a coma I would force myself to sit up and slap someone silly and say "Can't a person die in peace? For the love of it, shut up!" At least I like to think that I would.

Grandma lived through the night. She suffered a stroke and a seizure that had the hospice nurse mistakingly diagnosing her as "actively dying". Aren't we all actively dying? The ambulance was called to transport my little grandma to a hospice care center but the nurse advised the family that she did not believe that grandma would survive the move.

Grandma survived the move. They settled her in to this beautiful suite in a brand new facility. Grandma was partially paralyzed and could not speak. By the following afternoon, she was sitting up in bed, eating steak and lobster and speaking! Her voice is very soft and articulate and according to my mom...very different. But clearly grandma did not look to be on death's door. She had no memory of the night before and how ill she was and was insisting on going home.

Yesterday and today she has slept a lot. Like a LOT. A doctor finally came and did an evaluation but he has not spoken to any family members yet so we have no idea what we're dealing with. So we're waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I realize that this is all happening as it needs to and that death would be most welcome right now. But it is the WAITING that is killing me. Now, don't think me morbid or unfeeling. I don't mean it's killing me because I WANT grandma to die. I mean I want to see an end to this wonderful woman's suffering. No one should have to live with such pain and indignities. What is harder to deal with is everyone else. It's all we can talk about. It's all that there is to do. We question every little word she says and every move she makes. The poor woman is under a microscope and she was always a very private person. And to top it all off, today a nurse said that she thinks that grandma has some "unfinished business" and that is why she is fighting dying so hard. Unfinished business? Isn't that only said in the movies??

Now we're all racking our brains trying to figure out what that unfinished business could be? Waiting for death is exhausting - not just for the one trying to die but apparently for all of us around her. It's the most bizarre feeling in the world. Tomorrow will come and at some point I will get a phone call that will re-count all that transpired with grandma - what she ate, what she said, what she wore, etc. We'll all try and figure out what can be done to bring her some peace so that she can let go.

If this isn't a lesson on making things right in your world now while you still can, I don't know what is. I know that this experience has encouraged me to say what needs to be said to people and to let people know how much they mean to me; to try and fix relationships that need to be fixed, and to never let a day go by that I don't tell the people that I love, that I love them.

Even in the end, grandma is still teaching me things. Maybe she's waiting until we all get right with one another. So I'm doing my part.

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