A week ago, I spent the better part of Sunday in the ICU waiting room because my grandma had been admitted the night before. I had visited her in the hospital several times over the years. But this time was different. She hadn't been doing well for awhile. She'd been fighting bedsores and all but given up any activity besides moving from the chair to the bed and vice versa.
My family had been called in very early that morning, so they were there for some time before I learned about the situation and arrived. The prognosis was grim and we were given "the options". We parted ways that afternoon, but they were called in again very early the next morning. And I left work early to join them this time.
The decision was made on Monday to let her go. We waited until my aunt and cousin made it over then went back to her room. They closed the curtain, took her off the ventilator, then let us back in to watch the other machines eventually tell us she was gone. I held my mom's hand and cried. Grandma's breathing continued for awhile, then slowed, then came to a stop. The lines on the screen went flat. The numbers dropped to 0.
I wasn't there when Grandpa died. I was 20, in Terre Haute, with my best friend, partying like it was 1999. 'Cause it was. This time, I was 34, with a front row seat. It was weird, it was emotional, I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to do it. There are two things I'll remember vividly. Walking in that room at 5:30 in the morning, looking at Mom with tears in her eyes saying, "I think this is it." And walking out of that room after Grandma had passed and looking back to see Mom patting her leg and saying "Love ya, Mom."
The visitation was almost overwhelming. When you move away from home, you don't fully understand the scope of what it means to have spent 87 years in the same place, with the same people, and all of those faces coming out of the woodwork to pay their respects when the time comes. And I thought I had done all of my crying until I heard them play Alan Jackson gospel music at the funeral. He was her favorite singer.
Things like this make you face your own mortality. But it's making me face other mortalities. My parents. My husband. I don't want to bury them. I will most likely have to unless I go first. It also makes me question my life choices. Where I live, my lack of reproduction, what I've done (or not done) with my life. I can't get too wrapped up in that, though. Everyone does the best they can, right? You gotta do what you gotta do. Focus on the good. Deal with the bad. Cherish the memories. Life goes on.
Rest in peace, Grandma.