Friday, January 24, 2014

Saying goodbye

2014 hasn't started off quite like I had hoped.  On January 2nd, I got a call that my grandma had been taken from her nursing home to the hospital because she was dizzy and just not feeling well.  She was admitted and it was determined that she had an e-coli infection, among many other problems.  

My grandma has been here in Northwest Arkansas where we live since my parents moved here two years ago.  It's been great having her so close.  The girls and I would go up to her nursing home as often as possible to see her and she loved spending time with the girls.  My grandma has been a very special person in my life.  Many of my childhood memories revolve around time spent with her and my grandpa.  They were salt of the earth people.  Genuine, kind, wise, hard working...I could go on and on.  My brother and I were their only two grandchildren (my dad is an only child) so we may have been a bit spoiled by them!  We lost my grandpa in 2004 which was extremely difficult on all of us.  My grandma's health has steadily declined since then but she seemed to be doing ok when I just saw her on Christmas eve and Christmas day.  Then to get a call a week later that she was in the hospital was surprising.  I couldn't go to the hospital that night because Shaun was still at work and I had the girls.  She was admitted to the hospital that Shaun works at so I got updates from him.  During the next few days, my dad was going to the hospital every day.  My grandma was asleep almost every time he went but did wake up occasionally.  The one time I went, she was asleep.  I didn't wake her.  I wish I would have.  In the middle of the night on January 8th, we got a call that my grandma had had a major stroke and was unresponsive.  Shaun and I rushed to the hospital and met my dad there.  She was in ICU and when I saw her, it hit me.  Shaun told me on the way there that she would probably not wake up again.  When I saw her, I knew that to be true.  The next several hours were spent in her ICU room watching all the machines (we thought she may go at any time).  We had a discussion with her Dr.'s the next day and they felt certain that there was no brain activity and that she would not recover, nor would she wake up again.  We made the difficult decision to move her to comfort care and transfer her to a hospice.  She was transferred the next day and we all went every day and held her hand, talked to her, played music for her, and waited.  I soon found myself praying that Jesus would take her.  Seeing a loved one in that kind of condition is not easy.  I knew she wouldn't want to be like that.  Family and friends came into town to say their final goodbyes and we lost my grandma in the early morning hours of January 15th.  

Words can't describe this loss for me.  I loved my grandma dearly.  I miss calling her and saying "hey gorgeous!"  I always greeted her that way and she got the biggest kick out of it.  She's been so worried about me the past couple of months.  It consumed her.  When I saw her on Christmas she said "honey, I'm just so worried about you."  I looked at her and said "Grandma, don't you worry about me.  I am doing just fine and I showed this cancer who's boss....I love you, don't worry about me"   Those were the last words I ever said to her (when I knew she could hear me).  There are so many other things I wish I would have said. If I had only known.  She knew how much I loved her.  I told her every time I saw her or spoke to her on the phone.  She knew.  I have comfort in that.

This is my favorite picture of me with my grandparents.  My wedding day.  They were so happy!
Grandma's wish was to be buried next to my grandpa.  We had her flown to California and my dad, brother and I went out to bury her this week.  It was hard.  I know she would have been so happy to know that the three of us were there.  She never wanted my dad to have to do that by himself.

Her beautiful casket
Right next to my grandpa.  Right where she belongs.
My brother and I.  We had so much fun telling some of our favorite grandma stories.
Two of my favorite guys.  My dad and my brother.
When I got home and went through my grandma's things with my parents I found her bible.  My dad let me have it.  It is filled with highlights, notes, bookmarks.  I can't wait to dive into it.  My grandma's faith is one of the things I admired most about her.
 I also took this.  She had it hanging in her room at the nursing home.  It was her favorite family picture of us all.  I'm searching for the perfect place to hang it.
Tell your loved ones you love them.  You just never know when it could be the last time.  I hate learning that lesson but it is an important one.  I love you grandma.  I can't wait to see you again in heaven.

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