Death can be cruel. It robs us of our loved ones and steals from us a future of potential memories. Waiting for death may perhaps be crueler. The days or weeks of watching a loved one hover between life and death are torturous. Paralyzed by an inability to improve the suffering, the mind wanders to scenarios that seem harsh to those not involved in the situation. You find yourself wishing for death, seeing it not as a fearful fate, but a desirable one. At some point, after watching so much suffering, you will find your prayers evolving from “please heal” to “please end this pain”. It’s an uncomfortable feeling this sudden alliance with the grim reaper.
I lost my grandmother today. A week ago, a massive stroke left my grandmother in death’s gray zone. She was no longer healthy or conscious, but she was not yet prepared to part from the world. As a child, I remember a spry, adventurism woman, traveling the globe on a series of adventures. I could barely leave her alone on her visits from California, wanting to hear tales of exotic locales. For a small child with little travel experience, she was the coolest person I knew. As we grew older, she moved to Virginia to live closer to my mother. In a few short years, age caught up with her and her memory began to slip away. Dementia robbed her of her short term memories, but preserved her childhood with a crisp focus.
For now, the memory of death is still fresh. I find the images of the hospice bed hard to shake. I will work to put these harsh end days’ memories from my mind; she would not wish to be remembered this way. I too will focus on my childhood memories and honor her as the bold, intelligent adventure she was.
All my love to you Grandma.