Monday, October 7, 2013

"This might be the last..."

My grandma has lung cancer. Back in July they said she might only have 6 months left to live. As we get closer to that mark a feeling of dread has been sinking in and I suddenly feel like all I've ever done is waste time. Time that could have been spent with Grandma.

Yesterday was her 89th birthday. She barely has any grey hair, she can see, she can hear, and most importantly she's got all her wits about her. She broke her leg in the summer, so she uses a walker now to help get around, but she lives alone and can take care of herself just fine. She doesn't look sick. She doesn't act sick. If she didn't have cancer she'd probably live for another 5-6 years at least! Her older sister is in her mid-nineties already and still going strong.

Was this her last birthday? Doctors can only you give you a fact sheet with a bunch of averages on it. The "6 months to left to live" was a calculation based on her illness, her age, her per-existing health problems, and was essentially the average lifespan of people in a similar situation to hers. So, it's not a death sentence exactly, she could live longer, or on the flip side, she could die sooner. Either way it sucks to think about a person you love so dearly to be dead in a predetermined amount of time.

But I can't stop thinking about it. I think about her and I miss her and my heart starts to ache and my eyes get all watery. There's so much I want to ask her and so much I want to talk about with her. My throat closes up. Sometimes the pain in my chest hurts so much I feel like I can't breathe. She's dying and it's a total What The Fuck moment for me. Though I've been to several funerals, nobody close to me has ever died.

She's still alive, Bob reminds me. You have time. Some people die suddenly. Some people are sick and keep it a secret from you. I know. I have the opportunity to do something about it, to say what I want to say and spend that extra time with her. So many people wish they had the knowledge and the time with their loved ones. This feels like the longest goodbye ever though. I hate long goodbyes. And grandma hates it when people fuss over her.

My sister and I got Grandma some flowers for her birthday and I wrote her a letter. During dinner I slipped it in her purse so that nobody would know I wrote it for her and she could read it in private at home. It was a letter of thanks and appreciation, telling her how much she means to me and sharing a few memories. I would never be able to say all that with a straight face in person, (I cried the entire time I wrote the letter.)

I hope she likes it. I'm sure she will. It came from the heart and you can never go wrong with that. Now we just have to get through the "the last Thanksgiving," and "the last Christmas," and if Grandma's not too uncomfortable, I hope she'll make it through the new year and live to see her 90th birthday. It seems like a nice milestone. And she spent the majority of her summer in a hospital bed this year, so I wish she could have one more hot summer to enjoy outside. And if she could live long enough to meet her second great-grandchild, that would be nice too.

Old people are the glue that hold families together sometimes. The only reason why everyone gets together is because the old people want to see all of their family together under one roof. Life is going to be very different without Grandma. She's the only grandparent I've ever known and she's always been very involved in my life. I just hope things don't fall apart without her around.

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