this is how the world ends...not with a bang but a whimper

It's over. We took turns sitting with my grandmother all night. She was pretty out of it, every once in awhile, struggling with her nightgown, which the nurses said was normal. She called out help once at about 4:45 this morning (well technically now, yesterday morning) and my mother and I changed her and cleaned her again. Tom and I went downstairs to bed, my mom taking over. At 10 to 7:00 she was at the door, "Mer, I think she's gone."

She waited until my mom left the room. In control until the final moment. Not wanting us to be with her when she decided she was really done with us and the world. My mom walked in, she had turned onto her back (which she hadn't done in months) her eyes open and hand still on her nightgown. She was gone.

We called hospice. These are amazing people. Sandy, who was own main nurse, was there in 20 minutes. She checked for a heartbeat and then called the doctor to get a pronouncement of death. She then called the funeral home and waited with us until they arrived.

Two men came to our door, one a younger man who looked a little like a car salesman, and an older gentleman who looked like he could have been a cast member of the Adams Family. The hallway too narrow to get a gurney down to the bedroom, he carried my grandmother out to the living room like a child in his arms. They wrapped her in a blanket, adorned with a single red rose and took her out to the car, and that was it.

I was with my mom's mom when she died, so I have been through this process before, the bedside vigil, being there for her last breath. I cannot say enough how wonderful hospice is. My guts were turning around on themselves, but somehow they make it ok. Despite the fact that it feels like everything has turned upside down, they manage to make it seem like nothing is wrong and honestly it is just the next step.

After the noise quited down and the house was empty, we cleaned her room. My dad is a lot like me when there are things beyond your control; you manipulate your environment. We cleaned, he took windex to the filing cabinet next to her bed that was covered with spills, we picked up wadded kleenex and stray pills that had been dropped and became lost under the bed. Within 10 minutes, it was like she hadn't been there. No poopy diapers, no dirty sheets, nothing of death. It was surreal.

We all collapsed and slept then. Except for my mom of course. Cannot get that woman to relax.

We got up about 7 and went to dinner. The first time in months being able to leave without worry. I bought a Jack Daniels and water and placed it at her empty seat. Her favorite drink, now a mini-service for us.

I cannot really put into words everything I am feeling. It's strange, it's a relief, it's sad, it's weird the world goes on without noticing. A few minutes and you were never there.

My dad said to my mom "Now I'm an orphan too." Their parents gone. Alone in the world, but not of course.

Tom is an angel. He helped my mom and I lift my grandmother for the last changing. Running to the store, quietly helping my dad clean her room. 2 months into marriage and he has had to deal with the week from hell. The days are completely one long dream for me. I keep asking what day it is.

So tomorrow we meet with the crematorium people to pick an urn. My parents will bury her in Maryland in the next week or so. I will not be there for that part. Which is probably good for my folks to be able to be alone with that part of it.

So strange. I have now watched 2 grandmothers through their last hours of life and I know I will see it again, sooner than I want to. However, there is a part of me that feels better for the experience.

1 comment:

This and That said...

My thoughts are with you. I am sure you will go through a range of emotions in the next few days/weeks. Especially with caring for her for awhile and having a routine with it. Any change to that...good or bad...is still change. With death I always go out and do something that reminds me of that person. So I say have that jack and coke. Hope your mom is also able to relax soon too.