Absence

So, I have been MIA for quite awhile. I realize I made a goal to blog more, but it has been a little difficult. Since I last blogged, a whole slew of things has happened.

My last update was on February 9. February 6, however, something happened that I wasn’t ready to update on because it was something I knew would take a lot of my time and energy, and I wasn’t ready.

Friday, February 6, I received two pieces of news back-to-back that kind of hit me hard. The first piece of news was that my uncle had passed away. The second piece of news was that my grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was not given much longer to live.

Two blows to the heart. I can’t lie and say that my uncle who passed was my favorite uncle, and that it devastated me to learn of his passing. To be honest, his relationship with our family was very interesting, to say the least. Regardless, it saddened me to hear of his passing.

Learning of my grandmother’s diagnosis, however, was very hard for me. Throughout my childhood, my relationship with my grandmother was not as close as it was to other family members. I remember helping her to set the table at every family gathering at her house, and that my favorite part was getting to ring the dinner bell, hung in the door frame leading to the dining room. We celebrated lovely Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, and other family gatherings at her home. They were relatively formal. My grandmother was not a very touchy-feely person, and as a child, I didn’t really “play” much with her.

Growing up, our relationship changed, especially in the last couple of years with her health issues. She became someone I enjoyed talking to. I no longer needed toys or trips to the park to be entertained; simple conversation was enjoyable to me, and I liked spending time with her, regardless of what we did.

In the last weeks of her life, I spent more time with her than I ever did before. I truly think it was an act of God that called me to move to Kansas in November; I now live 10 minutes from where her house is, and this made it much easier for me to go visit her. As her health began to rapidly fade, our talks grew a little shorter. Regardless, I realized how much I enjoyed just being there, in her home, spending time with her. Despite the lack of a touchy-feely type of grandmotherly love, I knew without conviction that my grandmother loved me in the best, and only, way she knew how.

Several memories were made in those last few weeks that I will never forget. Making beef stroganoff while she gave me verbal instructions in the living room, helping her to navigate her home, laughing with her, being there for her…these are things I won’t ever forget. On one of her last good days, I looked at her and told her I loved her. She looked back at me and told me she loved me, too. These are the last words that were exchanged between us, and boy, am I grateful they were.

The last day that she lived, she was not very aware, and she slipped into the death process. Watching someone die is extremely painful; you want them to not have to struggle, and you know that they are no longer the person they were, but you still wish you had more time to say goodbye. That’s the funny thing about time – there never seems to be enough of it when you need it.

Though it was extremely hard to witness, I am glad that I was there. A hospice nurse had come to visit the family and to be with us during this difficult time. Something she said truly resonated with me. As we sat there, holding my grandmother’s hand, she said, “You know, everyone thinks it’s such a blessing to be there when someone is born, at the beginning of life, but no one really thinks about how much of a blessing it is to be with someone at the end of their life.”

It took me a second, but it clicked.

Life is made of fleeting moments; fleeting moments with loved ones, fleeting moments of happiness, fleeting moments of heartache and trials…fleeting moments that add up to a whole lifetime. At the end of all those fleeting moments, it is truly special to be with someone as they experience their last, as they make their journey to the other side. Not only is it special to them, knowing they are surrounded by the ones they love, but it is special to those present, to be able to provide a level of comfort and joy in those last moments.

I miss my grandmother because I know that we weren’t done. There was so much about her that I never learned, so many things I wish we could have done together, or talked about. But, I know, deep in my heart, she is still with me. We may not have had the closest relationship out of my family members, but to me, she will ALWAYS be someone I loved deeply.

I love you, grandma. I will be seeing you again.

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