Friday, 21 September 2012

Last year on 17 September...

...I woke up at around 6:00am to see my mum and husband (then still fiancé) off so they could bathe and get a change of clothes. I had very bad cramps the night before and I was still slightly stoned from having taken Tramadol to ease my pain.

We were in the hospital. We didn't know yet that the countdown had begun on my grandmother's last day with us.

I was alone with her for maybe four or five hours. I talked to her still form, saying the same things I'd said to her when she was still fully conscious.

"We can only do so much for you. You need to choose what you want to do."

"We will find the best medical support for you if you choose to fight. We will learn to accept it if you choose to let go."

A friend laughed a bit at this later on saying, "So you were still arguing with your grandmother until the very end?"

In monosyllabic words: "Yeah, I was."

Of course I couldn't bear to see her suffering and I knew she was. They couldn't explain why her system was shutting down the way it did when she'd cleared all her tests just fine. And yet there she was, her blood pressure dropping, eyes constantly open, consciousness slowly waning.

Now, whenever I am asked about the circumstances of my grandmother's death, I shrug and say "She wanted to go."

Except at the time, she didn't know if she should so I gave her the best advice I could: "Do what you want." I didn't want her to think about us. I didn't want her to think about how we'd feel.

I remembered, too, the bond that I made with her; the promise that the things her parents, as well as she and my grandfather worked to put together would be taken care of. I made her the same promise all over again. I told her we knew what needed to be done and she need not wait for us to get things settled before leaving us to deal with it all. It would be easier to take care of them while she lived, yes, but why should she suffer for something that would take so long?

I assured her then that we could handle it, my husband and I. At that point, she didn't even consider him to be separate from me anymore; with or without the ceremony, we were already married as far as she was concerned. I know she recognised that I had found my perfect match and one who made her the same promise that I did.

I left a little after lunch after my aunt had arrived to take over the afternoon shift, with plans to return that night. I even brought a little nail care set because I noticed her toenails had gotten too long for comfort.

Sometimes some things happen that we can't quite explain.

My husband and I had to make a stop at a local warehouse store to pick up some supplies and inadvertently had to have our dinner there because the car broke down. I texted them at the hospital about the delay, telling them we would get help soon and be on our way after.

We were halfway to the hospital when my mom called. I could tell she was trying to stay calm but was crying. She asked where we were and I said we were only ten minutes away, traffic flow included. She simply said okay and hung up.

I remember being worried but calm. In fact, this was what alarmed me when we arrived at the hospital parking lot.

"I'm too relaxed," I told my husband as we made our way up the hospital driveway. I didn't see it as a good thing.

I cannot, for the life of me, recall what the room looked like when I first entered. I just remember touching the door handle and thinking, "It's over." And then my thoughts were verbally echoed by my mum and the attending doctor.

It was over. She made her choice.

I walked over to her bedside not really thinking of anything other than the need to cut her nails. So I did.

Regretfully I said, "I knew I should have brought the red nail polish." It was over. Monitoring her nail colour wouldn't have mattered anymore. And she loved red.

I'm not sure now how everything else went that night. I remember filling out the form that would later become her official death certificate. A little past midnight we were at the funeral parlour--it all happened in three or four hours.

Calls were made, clothes gone over and brought to the parlour. Then my mum sent us all home to sleep and rest up.

Two months of restlessness, sleepless nights, stress and worrying, fights, and tears, over. Just like that.

I wished differently for her, prayed she would leave us as my grandfather did. But that kind of peace was not her lot, perhaps because there was much that needed to be done at the time of her passing.

I don't think I'll ever understand what was really going through her mind during those last months. The battles we fought and won, the ones that ended in stalemates, the guilt and wondering if there may have been better ways of trying to get her to choose as she needed to.

I will never know but I do know that what I chose then was what felt right. I regret nothing because I know it was the way things were meant to go given the choices each of us made.

The thought doesn't soothe the sting. But it makes it easier to accept when I look past my loss towards her gain: she is with the Lord. Nothing else matters.

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