Sunday, November 28, 2010
Bob and I flew in late on a Thursday. You were already in bed, but I went to wake you up anyway. Your breathing was different. Harder than it should be. I think I knew then, that your journey was soon to be done. I painted your toenails on Saturday. The bottom of your feet were blue. I know I knew then. I was supposed to leave on Sunday, but I couldn't. Time was short, and I wanted all of it I could get.
I wasn't shocked, really, at how much you'd declined in the two months since I'd been there- how weak you were, how you didn't interact much, because I'd heard. I had called most days, gotten the report from whoever was there. Some days you talked to me. Some days you didn't have the energy. Some days I think it just made you too sad, so you'd tell me to call some other time. It's ok. I understood.
Sometimes it makes me sad to talk about you. Like this morning, in Sunday school, when the leader asked for examples of a time when things had happened when we knew it was God working. I wanted to share, but my throat got tight and my eyes hot and I knew if I said a word the tears would flow. I wanted to tell them of how the morning of your visitation I was lying awake at 3am and felt the baby move inside me for the first time. How I was so glad God had given me that gift on such a hard day. And I had wondered if you had met, you and the baby, and if you had had a part in that blessing.
I'm sad you won't get to be here to help bring up this child, or any that follow. That you won't make them smocked bonnets, quilts, dresses, or blankets, or anything else you were so skilled at making. I'm sad about a lot of things they are going to miss because you're gone. Some may have faulted me for not waiting, for getting pregnant knowing you were sick, knowing that you didn't have much time. At times I have briefly doubted my own judgement, but I don't now. You mourned the loss of being a grandmother even before I had a child in me, for there was little in this world you loved more than babies. Though it was terribly bittersweet, it gave us a chance to talk about things we didn't talk about before: pregnancy, delivery, children.
I know you loved the baby. I'll be sure to make sure it smells good, and I'll kiss it in all the right places, just like you told me to. And I'll brush its hair with the last gift you gave me, through garbled words and gestures, just days before you died, a Gorham baby comb and brush set.
I'm sorry the last days were so hard for you. I'm sorry I had to get out the wheelchair of Granddaddy's, bringing it down from the attic for you to use. But the pain and the weakness and the struggle to walk were too much for me to watch. I'm glad it allowed us to take you to the kitchen where you hadn't been for days, to the big window where you could sit in the sun and see the farm. I'm so glad for the morphine, the continuous drip of relief. We started that on Thursday night. You never said you were in pain again. I'm so glad we were able to keep you at home until the end.
Friday morning your breathing changed again. You were slipping away. We stayed up with you from then on; someone was always at your side. We talked to you, kissed your forehead, rubbed your hands. I knit a blanket while you slept. I told you to say hi to Jesus for me. I told you things I would tell my children about you. I took a turn in the middle of the night, already sleep-deprived; watching, waiting. I only lasted a few hours, then the sickness that had plagued me the whole pregnancy up to that point overtook me, and I had to sleep. I hated giving up time with you, but I had to, for the baby. Then I wondered how much you had missed for me, what you had sacrificed for me.
It seems odd that it has only been three weeks. The days since have ticked away like they always have, but a Saturday hasn't gone by yet when I haven't felt a twinge of sadness, a bittersweet acknowledgement of the fact that you died on a Saturday. At 4:17pm. I looked at the clock then, when we were all standing by your bed, all of us: your babies, and your husband. We were all there, our little crew, just like you liked it. Someone had to run and get me as your last breaths came quite suddenly after hours of struggling. I had layed down again to rest, tired from grief and retching and staying up half the night.
People keep telling me they are sorry I had to lose my mother at such a young age. And I suppose I am young by most standards, but so were you. But I'm grateful that you were able to raise your own children to adulthood, that we all turned out mostly ok, that you were able to teach 30 years worth of students, that you were married over 30 years to the same man. Maybe the years weren't that many, but you filled them with many great things. A tribute article about you made the front page of the paper. Over 1,000 people came to your visitation and funeral. You were loved.
I'm going to miss you. I love you.
Posted by Sarah Blanshan at 9:35 PM