Chapter 2: I Don't Wanna Live to See the Day We Say Goodbye
"When I first met you I couldn't love anyone,
But you stole my dreams,
And you made me see,
That I can walk into the sun,
And I could still be me.
And now I can't deny,
Nothing lasts forever.
But I don't wanna leave,
And see the teardrops in your eyes.
So maybe while were gone,
Let's figure out together,
That even with the pain,
There's a remedy, oh,
And we'll be alright.
I don't wanna live to see the day we say goodbye."
Hootie and Blowfish may have meant that song to be for a lost love in life, not a lost relative, influence, and inspiration to one's life. But to be honest, I never wanted to live to see the day I would have to say goodbye to Grandma. But Lord knows that the time would have to come.
I can't lie, and as weak as it may seem, long before the day came, I spent many-a-night in my bed thinking about what I would do without Grandma. Sometimes it would force me to tears; sometimes I would stop short so I wouldn't have to cry. But the fact remained that I personally tried to prepare myself for something you can't prepare for: The moment of death.
I guess the inspiration to this entire chapter would be Forrest Gump. We all know how powerful that movie is, and how barely any can withhold tears watching it. But that moment where Forrest in essence says goodbye to his mother reminded me of Grandma. It reminded me of what I never got to say, and at the same time, what I chose not to say.
It seems like only yesterday Grandma was here, helping me, encouraging me, pushing me to do my very best. But her last day on earth seems like so long ago. That's not to say the memories aren't vivid though, because those will never leave me.
I remember it was early November; November 6th, to be exact. Mom was in a wheelchair because she had fallen and broken her kneecap in October as I was at a college visit at St. John Fisher College. I had thus been elected the person to drive to Rochester General Hospital so Mom and I could visit Grandma. Over the past few days, things had gotten progressively worse for Grandma. Although she wasn't on any drugs that were making her hallucinate like before, she was now having constant diarrhea. The faucet would not turn off if you will. It was getting to the point where between laying all the time, and the diarrhea, she was developing bed sores.
I remember walking in, and kissing her as usual. Asking her how she was doing, and what was new. All she could say is how sore her bum was, and how painful it was, and how she couldn't take it much longer. We knew she had anemia, and that her platelet count was dangerously low. Furthermore, if things persisted, she would develop Leukemia. But regardless, Mom and I took care of her. We fed her lunch, made her feel comfortable, all of that.
I remember the only thing she could say is how she couldn't take it anymore, how she wanted to die. And to defend her, I guess I can't blame her being in the position that she was in. But she was my Grandmother; I didn't want her to go. I loved her too much, and was too selfish to let her go. I told her to be strong; I told her it'd be okay. I told her I loved her, over, and over.
Later in our visit, Grandma's dearest friend, Cissy came to visit with my youngest cousin Brandon. It was at that time Mom and I decided we should leave soon, but we'd stay a bit longer. Once again Grandma had a case of diarrhea, and as we left the room, we heard her moan in pain from the cleaning of her bum, as she once more passionately called it. The pain was worse than a lonely dog's howl in the middle of the night. But as they took care of Grandma, mom and I made our way outside the room to wait. Little did we know until a few seconds before we left, but Grandma was also scheduled to see a Kidney specialist about possible kidney dialysis. We knew she'd want none of it, but that didn't mean we wouldn't let them try to convince her.
As we stood outside and listened to Grandma's howls, I knelt down to Mom, in her wheelchair, and tried to console her. At that moment, a man walked past us and was headed to Grandma's room. He stopped and stared at us for a moment.
"You know," He began. "They say you don't judge a man by how tall he stands, but rather, how far he's willing to bend down."
I smiled a bit, and mom did as well. There was something about this man though. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I felt something coming off from him. Anyways, mom asked if he was the Kidney specialist. He responded with an affirmative answer, and told us he was going to ask her about the kidney dialysis. Mom gave him the heads up that she probably would say no, but to go ahead and try anyways.
He came out a few moments later, and that notion mom had ringed true. He knew there was nothing he could do now, and wished us the best. The last thing he did was tell mom that he hoped that she would feel better, and he placed his hand on my right shoulder and told me to take care of her. It felt much stronger than any hand I had been touched by before. It felt like, for that moment in time, there was an Angel or something there with us, watching over Grandma, checking up on her, and preparing her for Death. And not only her, but us as well. I told him I would take care of Mom, and that was the last I ever saw of him.
We walked back into Grandma's room. She was resting once more. Mom said her goodbyes, and I walked over to Grandma, this being the last time I would see her alive, and kissed her one last time on the lips, held her hand, still as strong as ever, and told her I loved her, and, stealing the line from John Q, I told her I would see her later. Little did either of us know that later would be in a casket.
Later that night, at about 11:00pm, Mom and Dad received a phone call from the hospital. They called to tell us that Grandma had fallen out of bed. They told us that her breathing was becoming short, and that they would have to treat her. Mom wasn't the healthcare proxy though, that was my Uncle. At those moments in time, life was flashing before my eyes. Mom and dad asked me if I wanted to go, but I declined. I'm not sure why I didn't want to, but if she was going to die, I wanted to remember that day, and not that evening.
Regardless, 5 minutes after Mom and Dad left, my Uncle called, telling me that he told the doctors to let her go. He said that he was sorry, and that Mom would probably hate him, but he didn't want her to suffer anymore. I told him it was alright, and that Mom and Dad were on their way there. He said he loved me, I said I loved him, and hung up.
Apparently, because Grandma's a stubborn little lady, she didn't want to die yet. She waited until Mom, Dad, and Uncle Tom were all there to go. And not only was it a few minutes of a wait, it was a few hours. I remember sitting online, talking to two friends, telling them what was going on, and remember feeling so helpless. I remember that around 12:30, when there was still no word from Mom or Dad, I went into the living room and sat in the rocking chair. I looked out the window, and just sat there and thought. I spoke aloud as I told my old dog, Tanner, to take care of Grandma, and I talked to Grandma, telling her I loved her, and I would miss her, and that she was the most wonderful person I had ever met. Little did I know that I was still talking to the living at that moment in time. Maybe she stayed alive for me as well, so that I could say goodbye to her, without even being there. She was a crafty woman, I tell ya.
For all I know, and this is just my opinion, I think she fell out of bed on her own power, because she didn't want to take the pain anymore, and she knew that would do it. That would have been something Grandma would have done. She was so stubborn that I wouldn't put it past her.
But I didn't know that until later. And by 2am, I got tired of waiting, and made my way to bed. I didn't cry, once again, but I lay in bed and said my prayers, and said goodnight. 45 minutes later, Mom and Dad made their way into my room to tell me that Grandma was gone for real. I hugged them, I told them I loved them, yet still did not cry. They told me what happened, and how she hung around for a while, and told Dad to take care of Mom, and how Mom was by Grandma's beside until the last breath, and that she went without pain. I was happy she went without pain. I told them I loved them once more, and fell asleep. It was my first night's sleep in almost 18 years without Grandma around.