"Am I dying?"
These were words uttered by my grandma, my last remaining grandparent, to one of my aunts earlier today as she lay in her ICU bed.
Mortality is something we will all face, so when I heard my aunt retell this story, all I could think of saying is:
"Well, we all are dying right now."
Obviously not dying in the same way or at the same time. But all of us has an expiration date. Will it be tomorrow? Will it be 60 years from now? Who knows honestly.
Some of us are guided through this process by religion; some by other doctrines or life philosophies that guide us in our journey.
It's been a rough past couple weeks, as I learned that grandma was heading to the hospital with what seemed like a laundry list of things wrong with her. I knew it was a little more serious this time around than previous times, as her two siblings (one from the Atlanta area, another from downstate Illinois) came to visit to see how she was doing the previous weekend.
My mom was great in providing updates on her health, even though there's been very little good to report. Many of her vital organs seem to be failing her in some way. I don't care to get into all of it, but it seems like all of the problems she's had in the past are meeting together in a convergence that is making things difficult physically for her and emotionally for her daughters and the family.
Jen and I went to go visit her early Sunday afternoon. After putting on our scrubs and gloves, I went in and saw Grandma with a tube down her throat, unable to talk but can still communicate through some laser-type device hooked up to her right pointing finger. She spelled our names when we got there into my mom's hand as she read the letters she was "writing". It was really difficult to fight back tears. One of my aunts was doing as such, as I am guessing they have all been doing as they have been battling a lot of mental stress in deciding the best steps to proceed in this situation (none of which seem to offer much promise or are absent of severe complications). All I could do for her in that situation was give her a hug, as I think I will be doing a lot of in the next few weeks or so as this situation develops.
I was ecstatic that she is still mentally sharp, since she knew who we were still. She was able to hear everything we said and communicate her thoughts into my mom's hand. It was also very cathartic to sit next to her bedside and hold and rub her arm. It also made me really happy that Jen did the same thing. Not that she's got to worry about being part of the family, but it feels great that she can share in these moments when family is needed the most.
We spent about 30 minutes or so in the room and another 20-30 minutes in the waiting room before leaving the hospital. Before leaving her room, Jen and I said and signed "I love you" and grandma did the same.
It is tough and nearly impossible to deal with the failing health of a loved one that at one point in your life thought was invincible - I looked at all of my grandparents like that. My grandpas died months apart in my early teens, but I have been blessed to experience both of my grandmas (my dad's mom passing in 2011) into my adulthood.
I have also been blessed and extremely grateful for getting a chance to live within 5 miles of both of them - Grandma Bolek lived around the block while Grandma Raynor lived about a 10 minute car ride away. Not too many kids have that luxury, and believe me, it's not something I've ever taken for granted.
I don't know what comes after today. All we can do is hope for the best. We already have a terrific network of family and friends who will support grandma and each other through these rough times.
Thanks for reading this far. Some point soon, I will share more thoughts about Grandma. It had been a while since I have written my thoughts into this blog, but with everything going on here, feel it to be helpful to share.
Love you all.