My grandmother is dying. I know that in no way does this make me unique. I know everyone goes through this. Recently I have seen an influx of friends on Facebook who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and my heart goes out to them. I guess my friends and I have reached that age where major loss of our senior family members should be expected. Yet I continue to live in my fantasy world where they live forever. I have been around my grandmother my entire life. She has helped take care of me, she was there for me when I got my first period, and she has always been the gentle matriarch of our family. Just this past July 4th, we celebrated her 90th birthday.
She looked great, aside from the normal aches and pains her age brings, and got to visit with so many friends and family members who came out see her. I went to visit her at the hospital yesterday, and she looks like a tiny child who’s lying in a huge hospital bed watching Jeopardy. She is on so many pain medications that it’s difficult to understand her when she speaks. She began shaking at one point, and when we asked if she was cold, her response was “I’m nervous.” In her drugged state, does she realize what is happening? I held my mom as she cried and asked what she was going to do without her mom. It is heartbreaking on so many levels.
I don’t take death well. In fact, I take death very personally. I am very sensitive. I’m sensitive to the point that I absorb and manifest the emotions of people around me. It can be very overwhelming and bewildering. Just last week I attended the funeral services of the mother of a dear friend. I had only met this lady once, but from what I heard I truly missed out on the wonderful experience of getting to know her. Throughout the service, I fought hard to keep the tears down. I had to frequently bite down on my cheeks and lips to prevent myself from sobbing out loud and making a spectacle of myself. Just the other day, another dear friend called to tell me that at the end of the week she was having surgery to remove the dying embryo she was carrying. She had only found out she was pregnant two weeks before. I cried on the phone with her.
My grandpa struggled for months with whatever he had (pancreatic cancer? bowel obstruction?) before he passed away. I was inconsolable at his February funeral. The night we buried him, my then-boyfriend had to prevent me from going to the cemetery and lying on his grave. I didn’t want him to be alone in that cold, dark ground. When my cousin died unexpectedly (due to a broken neck and drowning), I was hysterical. I came close to passing out several times. Don’t even get me started on my pets. One of our cats passed away at the end of May after a drawn out month of force feedings, subcutaneous fluids, and pee pads, and I was a complete wreck the entire time. I find it nearly impossible to control myself in these situations. It’s exhausting.
I’m generally looking to deal with my pain in this post. I do not want to deal with the consequences of life and getting older. The thought terrifies me, even though I know it’s an uncontrollable fact of life. With death all around me, it forces me to face my own mortality and realize that it can happen to me at any time. When I’m lying on my death bed, will I see a mysterious, disturbing cloaked figure in the corner of the room, awaiting my ultimate demise? When I do go, do I go in quiet dignity, or do I go out kicking, screaming, and clawing?