I’ve never written a post like this one before. It’s always been about the food but tonight I feel like getting a few things out.
In all honesty, I haven’t felt like myself for a few weeks now. Cloudy. Muddled. Neurons firing somewhere in my brain but I just feel…off. Or maybe I’m not really feeling. Or maybe I’m trying not to feel anything at all.
I guess it’s like that sometimes when you know you’re losing someone. Acceptance is never an easy stage of grief to arrive at. My grandfather (well, step grandfather, but the only one I ever knew) – Pop Pop – passed quickly: a heart attack that he never recovered from. I loved him dearly and was lucky enough to have had the chance to tell him so after rushing to the hospital when I got the call. After 15 years, I still miss him every single day. Every day.
I was too young to fully understand the weight of loss when my uncle was diagnosed with melanoma in his late 30s in July of 1989. He was gone by September.
My grandmother has been in a slow decline for about a year now. She’ll be 93 this August. She has outlived two husbands, a son, and a grandson. Though no official diagnosis has been made, I believe that dementia has whiddled away at her mind and demeanor for years now. And it was a stroke 3 weeks ago that has left her hanging on to this life by a thread.
These past three weeks have been a waiting game. Her body will not recover and another stroke will likely take her life if starvation doesn’t first. She’s not able to swallow and feeding tubes are not part of her advanced directives. She’s being kept comfortable at this point.
And yet this post isn’t about feigning sympathy, it’s about trying to clear my head because there’s this one thing: my grandmother and I are not close. An argument pushed us apart four years ago and split our once-strong relationship in two, like a lightning bolt cracks a tree trunk in half down the center. Even after apologies were pronounced, our relationship was never the same. I’m stressed because I don’t know how to feel. I’ve pushed feelings of guilt and sorrow deep down inside. I feel less about her dying than I do about the sorrow I feel for others in my life who will grieve for her when she lets go. Perhaps I’ve come to terms with this end of life stage. Maybe it’s easier because I’m two hours away and I’m not watching it happen. I’m not watching her die before my eyes. I almost feel like an outsider within my family. It’s an ugly way to feel but at the root of it, I’m more concerned with how I’m going to help my mom get through this. And even deeper still, I absolutely, with every fiber in my body, dread the day I have to deal with loss of one of my parents.
I’m waiting for the call to come when it’s raining. When my Pop Pop passed, it had been storming for 6 hours straight, like a sign from above that the heavens were opening up for him, welcoming him. I thought I would get the call yesterday; again, another stormy June day. And I realize that is a childish way to think – to expect that something will happen one way just because it’s happened that way before. But the call will come. The call I’ve dreaded all these years – every time my parents call, every time my mom leaves a message, for years. I listen to the inflection in her voice. For a cracking in her voice. For the slow, hesitant, deliberate voice.
Will I miss her when she’s gone? In a way, yes. I’ll miss the “old” grandma, the “Dodo!” I used to shout for as a toddler. I’ll grieve for the woman she once was. I will not miss the person she became late in life, for whatever reason (dementia or not). I can hear the “tsk-tsking” from some of you now but I’ll say this: try not to judge me (though I won’t be shocked if you do). Grief is a funny thing and we’re all entitled to deal with it in our own ways. Honesty with myself in trying to understand the grief, however, is what matters most to me here.
If you’ve even read this far, you’re amazing. I rambled – it’s a reflection upon my thought processes these days. I’m more focused at work than I’ve been in ages and have deliberately turned off other parts of my life while simultaneously trying to clear my head and suppress how I really feel – the subconscious works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? Thank you for reading, for allowing me attempt to clear a few things up (which I have), and for allowing me to share a bit of my private thoughts with you. More food soon…