i just got The Call
both grandparents on my mother's side are now dead, 10 days shy of a year apart.
and i don't know how i feel.
i mean, my grandfather was kind of a shock. we knew it would be soon but not amazingly soon and not dropping dead of a heart attack at midnight.
but my grandmother went and went suffering.
maybe focusing on the technical details will help.
she had small cell lung cancer, which had spread to the rest of her body, destroying basically every organ in her body except her heart.
no, that doesn't help. it reminds me how wildly her heart was beating yesterday as she struggled to breathe, that pulse cutting through those nearly non-existant wrists.. it really was like a hot knife through butter, you know. her veins were so small and hot and almost sharp beneath the soft skin, her hands blackened by lack of oxygen and warm with tumor fever.
i was there yesterday. she really wasn't. we had started giving her morphine or its synthesis for the pain (we hadn't all day); that seemed to bring her back into herself. this morning she started moaning. just long, low, heartbreaking moans; really not the last thing you want to hear your grandmother's voice (even if by now you're fairly certain there's not much of her left) do.
the morphine would calm her down; the hospice told us to just give her as much as she needs since she's trying to let go but she just WOULD NOT FUCKING LEFT GO and i know that's a horrible thing to think that i'm glad it's over but i am because she's not suffering anymore.
it's been bad for a couple of weeks now.
we knew about the cancer since mid-april i think.
sometime around then my aunt took her to her house in lindenhurst where my aunt, my mother, and i moved after i came back from school. so my grandmother died in what was essentially my room.
i called the house on the friday before we were leaving for boston. my grandmother answered the phone and sounded fine. i told her i was going to boston and that i loved her.
it's always a good idea to tell people you love them if you do.
as jen and i were packing up the car to go my mother called from st. louis. (she was transferred there in october after American bought TWA. the combination of this, the September 11th attacks, and my dot com failing exiled me to Jersey). she told me not to go to Boston since my grandmother was not supposed to last the night. Since we had a near scare last week, we reluctantly agreed.
She rallied that Saturday, altho we never saw it.
And a small part of me is still selfishly mad that we didn't get to go that weekend, that she didn't die that weekend making our staying home "worth it".
and i'm realizing as i write this that i'm barely crying. it's like it's still an abstract concept. like the woman who practically raised me (since my parents worked long hours and my grandparents lived downstairs from us; in an interesting twist of fate, my own son lives with his grandparents) is still alive, is still standing in the kitchen cooking or playing cards with her grandchildren. she's not lying in a hospital-type bed (but not a hospital bed because she didn't want to die in a hospital) with dark hands and feet and lips and her jaw hanging open and her face sunken and looking i swear like fucking Christopher Walken.
and as much as i wanted her to let go i didn't really want her to, i wanted her pain to end but i wanted it to be over and her to be well again and she just was never supposed to die.
and a part of me even blames myself because when i was young i promised her i'd never let her get old and then i went away and when i got back she was.
which is silly i know but do we ever really grow out of childhood fears and superstitions?
at least i got a few things accomplished.
i got most of her recipes. she was an excellent cook.
and the last thing i told her was that i loved her. it was a fairly conscious choice too; not that it was hard to tell her; quite the opposite because i do (did?) love her. she was a wonderful person who loved all of her grandchildren.
i can't keep writing about this. i might never stop.
but please do me a favor. if you have someone you love don't forget to tell them that.
life's too quick a thing.