This past weekend, I shared in the circle of love surrounding my grandmother as she processes this life and moves on to the next one.
Several years ago, she told me she was okay with dying. She had lived a full life and was ready to be in heaven with her husband. This is a woman certainly going to heaven.
For the past few years, she has been getting slower. This isn’t a dramatically quick death, which we were never expecting. This is more of a slow, peaceful passing.
I flew to my parents’ house early Friday morning and went straight to the nursing home. I don’t know that she knew exactly who I was, but knew that she loved me. She remarked on how beautiful I am, and from there we cuddled in for a few hours of love sharing.
I call it love sharing because every time I’ve seen her I’ve said my final goodbyes. I “settled” with her many years ago, and wrote her “the letter” in which I thanked her for all the ways she’s impacted my life, back when she was really cognizant to hear and understand. But as I’ve talked to my mom over the last two weeks, my mom has talked about the moments of love she and my grandmother have shared, and I knew I wanted in on that.
At times during the two days of visiting, I laid in her bed with her, snuggled in on her shoulder, either listening to her whisper talk or just enjoying the feeling of touching her. In her mind, she went back to a time when she was young, at a girlfriend’s house, who’s parents were drinking gin. She got a teaspoonful of it and thought it was delicious! I took her through pictures of her family, pictures of my family. I spoon-fed her water, stroked her hair and held her hand.
At other times I sat aloof, a bit distant. I was processing, imagining the world without this wonderful, loving woman in it. Pulling together my mental stamina, looking for glimpses of the woman I love. One time she laughed and it felt like beautiful music to my ears.
Leaving, of course, was tough. How do you leave? How do you say, I’m done seeing you?
I told her I was flying home that night. She asked why. I told her my children need me, my husband needs me. She nodded her head yes and said, “husbands need wives and wives need husbands”. We shared a big hug and she said, “don’t forget me”. I told her she would always be in my heart. I hugged her again, and again she wisely chanted to me, “husbands need wives and wives need husbands”.