My grandmother passed away during the last week of classes in my first semester of college. She is the first grandparent that I knew before passing (her husband died years before my parents met), and it was extremely difficult losing her. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s for a few years before passing, so inmany senses it felt like she was gone for a long time. There were times it felt like it would be easier if she didn’t have to suffer anymore. I must admit I dreaded going to see her because it was so difficult to see this person who is supposed to epitomize love and care be so distant and confused.
There are so many things I wish I did differently and so many things I wish I said.
When I look back, I can see God taking care of me though. A week before she was hospitalized I got to skype with her for about 15 minutes. This is a very long time for her as she gets restless very quickly and never liked to talk very long on the phone even when she was in a “normal” state of mind. She was also happy the entire conversation. She had the most gentle grin on her face. Even though we had the same conversation about 5 times, she seemed to be having the greatest time.
A few months ago I wrote the following poem. I feel like I am in different place regarding Grandma since I wrote this, but I am going to post it nonetheless.
How do you miss someone
who has been gone for so long?
Yes she left in December, but
she has been gone for long.
I read once that Alzheimer’s is the worst for grandkids.
Well, she has been gone for so long.
Kids have a lifetime full of memories
It doesn’t feel like she’s been
gone for so long.
Grandkids are forming memories based on a figure
who has been gone for so long.
I vaguely remember getting spoiled.
That’s been gone for so long.
Then I hated seeing my idyllic grandparent in pain.
Oh, she’s been gone for so long.
Now, all I want to do is see the
one who has been gone for so long.
Her shell remain, but her real self
has been gone for so long.
Her body is gone.
She is gone forever.
Since the ground was frozen back when she passed, we were not able to actually bury her. I found out last week that my family is burying her this upcoming weekend…which happens to be my birthday.
Honestly, it’s been hard to deal with my birthday approaching being so far from family and close friends, so finding out my family will all be together to finally put my grandmother to rest during my birthday weekend felt like someone punching me repeatedly in the gut.
Since all my plans for my birthday weekend keep falling through, it feels like God has something special in store for me, and I’m kind of excited. It always seems like when our puny earthly plans are tossed aside, there is something significantly better in store for us. I love that I worship a God who surprises me and showers me with lovely gifts–gifts of new friends, an encouraging word, and a freshly blossomed flower.
God is a creative god. He is a loving god. He is an unrelenting god. I can’t wait to see what sort of concoction He is brewing for my life this weekend and the weeks to come.
As my good friend Katie so frequently says, “I’m so freakin’ excited!”