One Last Reason to Smile

On Friday, my aunt sent an update to our family group on Facebook that my grandpa’s most recent stay in the hospital had taken a turn for the worse.

I immediately decided that I should visit. I didn’t know if HOS would want to be in that situation – hospitals, sick grandpa, etc. I can see how that would be uncomfortable for someone new to our clan. The big question was whether or not to take Charlotte.

My sister called and we planned a trip for Sunday, but after talking things over with HOS, I decided that Charli would be a welcome distraction for my grandma. And HOS wanted to come along. So, I told my sister we decided to go up yesterday – Saturday.

The trip is about five hours without stops. During the drive, I thought about my memories of my grandpa and all the things I wanted to share with Charlotte. I thought about what I would write in this post after the visit.

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 4:30 in the afternoon. We talked to some of the family who was there visiting, but leaving for Mass. And then we went in to see grandpa.

He seemed so uncomfortable, and reminded me so much of my mom when she lay dying in her home hospice bed. The room even smelled the same. I felt somewhat claustrophobic, but I wanted to be there. I wanted him to see me and Charlotte.

Grandpa woke up. He talked to us and recognized all the visitors. He teased Charlotte, growling and smiling at her. She tossed her toy at him and he picked it up and shook it at her.

I couldn’t have asked for a better visit.

The nurses came in and asked us to leave so they could move him and change his bandages.

It wasn’t five minutes later that an alarm went off, and a nurse asked my grandma the hardest question I could ever imagine – Do you want us to so CPR?

We all stood in shock, and the. Broke down in tears.

My precious, loving grandma had never looked so frail and so broken. After 59 happy years of marriage, she had to honor her husband’s wishes. She had to let him go, completely and utterly unprepared to do so.

The next week will be filled with tears for the loss of a loved one and smiles for the wonderful memories. We will be strong and weak, hopeful and sad.

Above all else, we will still be a family created by an amazing man and his loving wife.

HOS made a comment that he was so happy that we and Charli were there to make his last moments happy. He just wished she would remember. She’s too young, but she’ll always know that she was one of the last things to make him smile before he went to join his daughters – my mom and my aunt – in Heaven.

Seven Years

Today is the 7-year anniversary of the day my mom died. She was only 51 years old.

Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early September 2005. She lived just three short months after her diagnosis. I used to think that was so hard. We had just three months to fight. Just three months to pray. Just three months to prepare.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve seen my close friends watch their loved ones battle cancer for years. My friends had to watch their parents suffer through so much pain for so, so long. I’ve also lost people quickly and unexpectedly. There is no good time frameĀ for losing someone whom you love. There is just the time that we’re given.

This year has been a little harder because I have Charlotte now. Sometimes I imagine my mom holding her, rocking her. I imagine them playing together and Charlotte smiling up into her grandma’s face. I know it’s silly to dream about the impossible, but it doesn’t stop me.

Seven years without my mom. It’s really hard to fathom.

I lean on my belief that she simply moved. Instead of standing next to me, she now lives in my heart. And since she is still in my heart, I can share her love with Charli. I know that my mom will be a part of Charlotte’s life even if she isn’t physically present.

Each year that passes I’ll feel the same – Wow, 8 years, 9 years, 10 years without her. No matter how many years I go by, I’ll still have 18 years before she passed. Those were some good years.