I have really been struggling lately. I’ve been weepy and emotional, dealing with grief and thinking about my grandmother a lot. This time last year we had moved her from the hospital to the hospice and were trying to accept the fact that she was not going to get better. I was already feeling the loss and starting to grieve, but it was confusing and weird since she was still there, right in front of me. But by that time, she was on such high doses of medication that she was rarely awake and even when she did wake up she wasn’t really there anymore. She wasn’t herself, not really anyway.
I was also, at the time, worried about my emotionally unstable mother who had, just a month earlier, gone off the deep end in a particularly dramatic and traumatic (for the rest of us) way. Grandma had always lived with us, and my mother had not been without her for over 30 years. I didn’t know what she was going to do when the time actually came, but I couldn’t rule out anything. I was also worried about my sister who was dealing with a state of financial crisis at the time, and who took care of grandma all day, every day. Daily life, as she knew it, had changed forever. I got it in my head that I needed to be the calm, rational one. I tried to stay strong, just in case someone snapped. That has been my role these last few years after moving to NC. I try to be the voice of reason in an extremely chaotic family. It is not an easy job, and sometimes I feel like I am going to shatter under the weight of it, but someone has to keep their head and I am the only one left.
Grandma was checked into hospice on the 11th and the died on the 23rd. That’s twelve days of waiting, watching her slowly die. Twelve days of of anger, fear, and despair. Twelve days of rage, cursing God for allowing her to continue to suffer as the days dragged on. Twelve days being on pins and needles, afraid every time the phone rang, and terrified of needing to figure out how to live without her. My grandmother was the most important person in my life, except for my husband. In many ways she was a mother to me much more than my own mother. It’s been a year, and the pain is still sharp as knives. I still have times where the grief twists at my heart and doubles me over because I can’t breathe.
After everything was over- the memorial service done, and the friends and family had left- I withdrew from the world. I locked myself away and numbed myself out. I was like that for months. Finally, feeling started to return. The pain and grief crashed down around me, but also signs of life. It took until September, about six months, to return to “normal” life, or at least a life where I had more good days than bad. It was hard around the holidays, but we managed. I’d been doing pretty well until I went to the ER a month and a half ago. Before that, my last ER trip had been when we admitted grandma to the hospital. It brought everything back- the hospital, the hospice… everything. I’ve been trying to hold it together, but the last week or two have been really emotional. I’ve been crying a lot, which I hate. It’s been really hard. The 23rd is the anniversary of her death. Since it’s the week before Easter, I have dress rehearsal and a choir cantata that weekend. My mother is coming down for a few days from her new home (she moved away a few months after grandma died), and I’ll be with my family on the day. It will be good to spend time with my sister and my niece and plot out our plans for Easter.
I’m trying to focus on the good times. I have so many lovely memories of my grandmother. I loved her so much, and she adored me. I miss her like crazy. I wish that I could hear her laugh one more time. She was such a funny woman, quirky, but with a huge heart. Time is supposed to heal everything. I don’t know if that is really true. I think it’s more accurate to say that time just allows you to get used to living with the loss. It doesn’t necessarily fill in the gaping hole that is left behind. You just get used to living with that chunk missing. I’m no longer raw and bleeding, but the edges are still tender.
All that to say, I’m having a really hard time of it right now, so my posts are sporadic and somewhat superficial. I’m not really sure how long grief lasts like this. I lost my father when I was 16, but I don’t really remember how I felt or for how long. I know that all of this is totally normal and all part of the process. That doesn’t make it suck any less, but everyone who experiences a loss goes through it. I guess it’s just my turn. I’ll go on, because there isn’t really any choice, and wait for the day when I can remember without the grief. I know that eventually that day will come.