Sunday, September 23rd, was the last day of my Grandma's life. She'd been in the hospital 24 days, with a nasty bout of pancreatitis and eventually chemical peritonitis. Both of those led to other nasty complications.... it was horrible, and hard to watch. I pray for the memory to be wiped from my memory, but I have had no luck thus far. The entire time Grandma was in the hospital, we would go out and visit almost every day; there were only one or two times we were unable to make it out to Auburn to visit. She drifted in and out of consciousness during her hospital stay. The last conversation I had with Grandma took place on September 9th. I won't tell the grisly details of her illness... but I have to be thankful she isn't suffering anymore. At least that's what I try to tell myself. I know she's in a better place, and that's comforting to a point, but I still miss her; more than I thought possible. I want her to call, and I want to see her come walking down the hallway at her house... I want to see Grandpa smile, without the sadness in his eyes.
On Saturday, the 22nd of September, we were told that with life support, Grandma had a 1% chance of recovery. Mom and Aunt Dana and Grandpa elected to take Grandma off of life support, and she would be given versed and morphine to help her rest comfortably, and pass quietly. We were all at the Hospital, Mom, dad, Lori and I, as well as Grandpa, Aunt Dana, Lyle, the girls, and Geary. When we went back into the room after they took all of the tubes out of Grandma's nose and mouth, it was so hard, we were all crying and trying to remain calm. She was awake, but didn't focus on anything or acknowledge our presence. That evening, we all elected to stay the night at the hospital. The nurses had predicted that Grandma would pass quickly, but she continued to fight, and no-one felt comfortable leaving at that point.
The stress and emotion of the day had manifested itself into fits of giggles among my sister and I; which quickly transferred to our cousin Geary, and our friend Ashley who was there for support. We spend several hours trading stories and giggling in the hospital hallway. Around 1am we went shopping for tooth brushes and donuts, driving around downtown auburn (which is a rather small area) for over an hour, finally claiming our prize at the all night donut shop. (It had been closed the first time we passed it, but opened between 1:30 am and 2, when we were on our way back to the hospital.) We then camped out on the first floor waiting room, playing cards, drinking warm pepsi and laughing till our heads hurt. We managed to sleep for an hour or two and then all trudged groggily upstairs around 6am Sunday. Lori and I went home to shower and clean up; I was sick all day long, probably from nerves. We took mom home around lunch time, and didn't plan to go back until Monday evening. The doctor said it could be a few days; he didn't realize how well Grandma would do off of life support.
Mom decided to go back to the hospital that afternoon, and Lori and I were summoned around 8pm. Grandma had taken a turn for the worse, we arrived around 8:30, Geary arrived about 45 minutes later. Grandma and Grandpa's minister came and prayed with us around Grandma's bed. We cried, and then told stories, cried some more, laughed at jokes... finally grandpa couldn't take it any more, he hadn't slept in two days, he went upstairs to the hospitality room to take a nap. We continued talking and trying to ignore the reason we were there, when mom said; "oh my God." Grandma's heartrate slipped to 30, then flatlined. Lori ran out of the room to get grandpa. Grandma's heart rate went up again, and flatlined again, and did this 2 or 3 more times. Then she was gone. Mom thinks she waited for Grandpa to leave the room. He arrived about 2 minutes after she was gone. We eventually made our way back to grandma's house, (lori, geary and I) and just sat in the living room, silent. What could we say? None of us wanted to be there without Grandma ... we stayed the night, and when Grandpa and mom and Aunt Dana returned, we discussed the plans for the next day, and had a drink. No-one knew what to say, Grandpa held his drink up and said "Well, here's to Evelyn." We were all numb... in shock... that's how the next few days would go as well. The day of her memorial service, I was doing remarkably well. I hadn't cried all day, and was feeling confident. When I walked up to the podium to speak at the service, I was ok; then as I looked at the congregation, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I blubbered my way through the small speech I had prepared, and that night sat in our living room looking at the flowers, and cried for what seemed like eternity.
We've been going out to Grandma and Grandpa's house every day since she passed, and it's so hard. We went through her stuff, taking memento's and packing stuff up for the goodwill... trying to make life easier for Grandpa. We make small talk and try to keep things light, keeping the real reason we are there at arm's length... until one of us acknowledges it, and sends the room into tears. The truth is, I'm ok as long as I don't acknowledge that she's gone. I look at her pictures, and it's ok... but the moment I think of how I'll never hear her voice again, or how she won't be at my wedding, or how she'll never see my children, it hits like a hard slap. I miss her so much, it hurts; my heart is heavy... and I can't shake this sadness. I hate it.