And then.

And then my Grandmother died. She died on Friday evening, a beautiful June evening. I was not there. I did not see her before she went. I couldn’t.

This death could not be more different from Oliver – literally could not. She was 94. She had a great life; was happy; was completely with it right up until she died. She was sharp as a tack. And most importantly, she was ready to go. She was ready for the next great adventure; to shed the frail skin of this life and to go be with God and those who went before her (a considerable number given her age).

And yet at its lowest level there were connections and similarities that I could not let go of. O2 saturation levels; skin temperature; heart rate monitors. Details that I eventually had to ask to stop receiving. The thing is, like it or not the mechanics of dying are the same for everyone. And I couldn’t take it.

I have very few regrets when I think about my Grandma. She was a lovely person and she was so good to me – always so good to me. She was amazing, and kind. Nurses always used to comment on that – they’d be doing some painful procedure on her and she’d be asking them if they were okay. Just a sweet person.

The only thing I wish is that I’d seen her since we lost Oliver. I didn’t. We visited nearby twice, but both times Ani had a cold or a runny nose and I was so worried about exposing Grandma to toddler germs that I didn’t go. This is something I regret now – very deeply. Not just because I didn’t see her again – that’s sad; yes. But the Grandma I knew and adored was not so much there as she used to be. She was sharp still, but she had a quiet voice, and people overwhelmed her after awhile. She could converse for shorter periods but not for a long time.

But the thing is, my Grandma was another babylost mama. Her first son, Philip, died shortly after delivery. All I know for sure is that he was a “blue baby”. I don’t know if that means he was stillborn or if that means he couldn’t oxygenate his blood well enough and they didn’t know how to fix it yet. (Oliver, having had tetralogy of fallot, could have been bluer if his defect had been worse. His was comparatively minor so he was okay – but did Philip have that too?). After we lost Oliver she told my dad she remembered walking down the street with my Grandpa a few days after it happened and another woman coming up to her and saying “Where’s your baby??” I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine her pain, especially in an era where these things were *not* talked about; where there was no internet; where losing a baby was something you more or less swept under a rug and didn’t acknowlege. I don’t even know if there’s a grave for him anywhere; there’s certainly nothing my dad has ever mentioned.

So I wish I’d got to talk to her about all of it – to find out if there’s some secret she knew; some context she could give things that would help somehow. Probably not. But on the other hand her life as I knew it IS a testament to what can happen. You can go on to have a beautiful life. A good marriage; more children; happiness. Kindness, patience, peace, grace. Joy.

I will miss her but I’m so happy that she’s with God now. That she’s restored. That she’s with the people she loved. And that maybe, just maybe, she’s getting to know Philip as she didn’t get to in this life.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother 😦 My grandfather is very, very ill right now, and I can totatlly relate to some of the things you are saying. It’s like-well, we expect our grandparents to die. After they’ve lived their whole, entire lives!!! We don’t expect our babies to die.
    We went to the hospital this weekend to visit my grandpa and it was awful=just like you said. The words, the nurses, just 8 weeks ago it was me in this bed, fighting to keep my babies in. My grandpa’s roomate had pneumonia and everytime he coughed, it triggered the coughing that my father in law had-he died in november of lung cancer and had pneumonia numerous times. There are triggers everywhere 😦

    Reply

  2. Posted by Catherine on June 9, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I am so sorry that you lost your Grandmother. She sounds like an amazing woman and her life is truly a testament to what can happen, that life can still go on. I hope that she is with her Philip.

    It is horrible what a trigger those monitors can be. I guess because I’ve spent months staring at O2 saturations and blood pressures I now can’t bear them. They pop up in medical dramas all the time. I find that upsetting enough, let alone being confronted with them in real life attached to another beloved member of my family.

    My husband’s grandmother also lost two babies, twin girls, who were born too soon. She passed away before she knew I was pregnant. I wish that I could have spoken to her about her losses but, at the same time, I am glad that she didn’t live to see history almost repeating itself.

    Reply

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