“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
–Winnie the Pooh
I started a new job. September 18th was my first day. It felt pretty okay. It was a new beginning. It was a start to better things. My first week went by well. That weekend was a fun-filled weekend for me. Bryan had rugby, we had Christine’s market, I was going to see my grandma. Things were looking up! It felt like a nice break from the sadness.
Saturday came – it’s for the boys, ya know. I went for coffee while Bryan and the boys prepped for their game. I called my grandma to see how she was doing, tell her I would see her tomorrow. She tells me she wants to go to the mall. “I need some new tops, maybe a pair of pants.” she says. (Always the shopper this one.) I laughed, told her we’d talk about it tomorrow, told her I loved her, she said she loved me, we hung up and I watched Bryan and his team win a game. I watched that game not knowing that phone call would be the last time I would ever hear her voice while she was still alive.
I’m thankful I remember my final words. I’m thankful they were full of kindness and love. I’m thankful she was happy and didn’t know the next day she would have another seizure and die two days later.
I had to check my calendar for that. Two days. We waited for her to die for two days. It felt like an eternity.
I was at Christine’s market. I was looking at art. It seems odd to me to think I was looking at art while my grandma’s body (unknowingly to her) was getting ready to start shutting down.
I left after a while. On my way to my parents, I got a call from my dad.
“Where are you?”
“Umm,,. I’m on my way… why?”
“She’s unresponsive. Get here now and drive safe. Please.”
my world stopped
Ever notice how cars are like our own little bubbles? They’re these little personal spaces away from the outside world all while being completely enveloped in the outside world. Well, I noticed it at that moment. I knew it so very clearly as I sat in my car, sitting at a red light, looking at The Americana Diner, screaming “GOD NO” at the top of my lungs.
Could anyone see me? Could anyone hear me? Was someone else screaming in their bubble? Or were they laughing? Singing along to the music maybe? We all just follow along the road in our little bubbles, going from point A to point B. So close to hear the breaking of someone’s heart, but far enough away to not even know it.
I drive. I speed. I weave in and out of traffic. “Please. Just come to when I get there. Please. If this is it – fine, but please come back for just one moment. Let me tell you I love you again. Let me see you smile. Tell me you’re okay. Let me have just one – one small moment more.” That’s all I could think. It’s funny when someone leaves us, that no matter how much time we have had with them, we would give anything to have one small moment more.
My parents’ front lawn had never seemed so damn long before. I ran across the lawn, pulled open the screen front door and was caught by my father. I fell to the floor. I collapsed into my father’s arm and lost it. I knew. He knew. We all just knew. She would not make it through another seizure – and she didn’t.
My brother and I sat with her. Grandma’s face was blank, her eyes empty. My mom walked downstairs and sat with us and it was almost as if on cue – it began. She started to seize. The life I had watched fade for the last 13 months was now ending. She seized for hours and hours it felt like. We all held her while it happened.
“She’s brain dead.” my mom said. I heard the words, but I couldn’t quite get it. She was still alive; that meant hope, didn’t it? No. People don’t seize for this long, for over an hour, and still have brain function. I knew this. I did enough research on seizures to know that during a seizure, oxygen stops going to the brain – I knew. But she was here. She was hot from the fever, her eyes were still open, her chest went up and down with breath that HER LIVE BODY produced. But, mom was right. She was basically gone. She wasn’t coming back. All that was left to do now was wait. So we did. We waited.
From Sunday, September 24th to Tuesday, September 26th at 11:45pm, we waited.
Ever hear of a death moan? Well, apparently it’s a thing. It’s also a sound I will never forget. It’s the sound someone makes as their body shuts down over a period of time. It’s hard to describe but just know it is fucking miserable to wait through and hear. We wait. We make phone calls. We send texts. We don’t eat, we don’t sleep, and we count her breaths. The number of breaths she takes lessens and lessens every miserable dragging hour. Then my mom does something I will never be able to explain. She looks up at me, and I know – it’s happening and fast. Andrew and I get my sister up and out of bed. Mom wakes up dad who is sleeping at the other end of the couch.
Within minutes, being held by my mom, dad, brother and sister, she takes her last breath. 11:45 pm. Tuesday, September 26th, at 11:45pm our Nosey Rosie – a mom, daughter, sister, aunt, lover of life, constant worry wart, my selfless grandma left.
There was no more ‘coming back’, no more moments, no more moans or breath counting. There was nothing.
It’s funny how homes are like cars. They’re another type of bubble that’s all your own – just bigger. What were my neighbors doing? Were they sleeping? Maybe watching a movie? Were they fighting with someone, or laughing with someone? They had no idea that my family was collapsing into each other on the couch holding this woman we all love so much.
Close enough to hear five hearts breaking; but far enough not to know.
There must be a lesson in this post. I can’t think of one right now. This is one of those moments that have happened in the past 6 months that I am just writing to share. It’s not just any moment, but it is THE moment. It is critical and definitive before and after in my life. Before my grandma died, and my life after she died. Thank you for reading. Thank you for letting me share. I am grateful and humbled.
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha
Oh, there’s your lesson. You don’t have time. The time is now. Carpe mother fucking diem.
If you liked this piece, you’ll like My Mother’s Death