It has been a difficult week.
I recently wrote about my gorgeous Grandparents here and how grateful I am to have them in my life.
On Monday night I lost my beloved Grandmother.
I had popped in to visit them one evening last week. Their computer was playing up and Grandma couldn't access her e-mails. Computer troubles were an emergency in her world as e-mails were her lifeline to all her family members around the world.
I stayed for a chat and since it was time for "sevensies" I joined them for a glass of wine. Regardless of the time of day, it's always wine-o-clock at my Grandparent's house. They have eleven-sies, one-sies, five-sies and seven-sies etc. They were still on cloud 9 from our Fathers Day picnic the weekend before. They had had the best day. I mentioned I wanted to learn to crochet. Grandma said she had all the crochet needles so grab some wool and we'd get onto it. She gave me some of her old casserole dishes to take home. I was grateful to receive them but it still gave me a little pang in the chest at the thought they were giving away their items in preparation for the inevitable. They both walked me out onto the patio to say goodbye. That would be the last time I would ever see them together in their family home.
Two days later, I received a phone call that Grandma had suffered a stroke and was in hospital. I visited her that night with my 2 lovely cousins. The stroke was severe and had left her paralysed on her left side. It was devastating to see her like that. She kept her eyes closed but she was OK. She was chatty and sounded like her normal self. She is a stoic woman and a wee bit feisty. She is also cheeky, even in her final days. The nurses had asked her to squeeze her right hand tight to see if she had movement. She clenched her right hand, no problems. However, when they asked her to squeeze her left hand she took her right hand across and squeezed her left hand with her right and said "there, I squeezed my left!" See. Cheeky.
But she let her guard down as she talked about our Grandpa. She said how much she enjoys looking after him. That they always hold hands. That they hold hands and kiss each other every night. That they might have a little cuddle. Like they did when they were younger. That as soon as they wake up in the morning they hold hands again and have another little cuddle. By the time she said "I must admit I really do love him" the tears were streaming down our faces and onto her bed. We stroked her head and held her hand. It was very special. She told us to go home to our husbands and children.
I visited her again the next day with my daughter. We had another lovely chat. She was not too concerned with her condition. Fine one day and now this, she exclaimed. She said the nurses had been wonderful. Maybe she won't be able to walk again or go home but she still had her 'smarts' and would be OK somewhere with help.
On Sunday I visited her again. However, this time she was not responsive. I asked the nurse if this was normal. When will she wake up? But like a bolt of lightning I realised she would not be leaving the hospital. I started grieving from this moment on.
On Monday I thought I'd call the hospital first as I didn't want to see her like I had the day before. Too heartbreaking. But maybe she had come around, the nurses had said anything is possible. The outcome of Strokes are hard to predict. But the nurse said she was still unresponsive. No change. I went to visit one last time anyway. I said my Goodbyes.
I got the call that night that she had gone. It was sooner than expected but I was relieved that she did not have to suffer in that condition any longer. It really was the kindest end for her and for my Grandfather.
Although the sadness catches me unawares throughout the day, it is bearable and I welcome it as a way to remember her and be grateful. It is simply a sadness at the loss of a beautiful 90 year old Grandmother who has lived a wonderful life surrounded by loving family and friends. For that I am truly grateful. The loss one must feel upon losing a parent, sibling or child unexpectedly or to illness or before their time would be an entirely different loss altogether. There is a big difference. This is bittersweet.
I feel blessed to have had her in my life. I'll be a little lost without her there in the wings. But it's OK. She has made me who I am today and the memories we share will stay with me forever. I am grateful that I was able to say goodbye and that I was able to spend so much time with her since moving to Sydney. I told her often how special she was to me and that I loved her so much. No regrets here. No unfinished business. I know I am very fortunate.
But as I mourn the loss, all my thoughts are with my Grandpa who has lost the love of his life. The thought of his pain is almost unbearable. They were to celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary in 12 weeks time. A cruel blow. Not that their 69 years and 9 months together is in any way diminished. They were childhood sweethearts and theirs is a love story unlike any other kind. Perhaps more on that another time. On Grandpa being asked how he feels: "Like A Ship Without A Sail", he says.
My sentiments exactly.