Denial. That's the stage of grief that first hit me and that I remained in for weeks after that awful day that Grandma Nancy went to the hospital. I clearly heard all of the horrible news but had trouble processing, and mostly, I did not want to believe. Since we did not know exactly how much time we had left with Grandma, I convinced myself that we would get the best case scenario. I convinced myself that we would get many, many months, possibly even another year with her.
I visited Grandma as much as possible in the following weeks, but I never had that sense of urgency. I didn't want to believe that any day, week, or month could be our last with her. I didn't say any of those hard, end of life things to her at those visits. Our conversations remained about every day life. This might be my greatest regret.
I remember the moment that reality hit me and I broke down. I was driving and Laura Story's song "Blessings" came on the radio. I don't know what it was about that song, but reality hit me and I broke down in sobs.
I felt God trying to tell me that this best case scenario I had built up in my head was not going to happen.
Mom and I had a conversation earlier this week about all of the hidden mercies, gifts and blessings that God had given us in the midst of this painful valley. As I look back now, there are so very many. I have to share about what a gift especially this past week was for me. I'll never forget it and while it tore my heart into pieces, God was ever present and bringing healing.
The first blessing was that we got more time with Grandma in the first place. Mom was right, they could have found her dead that day they took her to the hospital. After all, not many people survive a shower of strokes and a heart attack. In his mercy, God used that day to let us all know we needed to spend as much time as we could with her.
And then all of the other blessings for me came over this last week. The first was being at Mom and Dad's house with family last Thursday (August 2nd) when Grandma came home from the hospital. I had not originally planned on being there but I drove almost an hour from where I was because I had a strong feeling that I needed to be there.
Then this past Monday it all came crashing down. Grandma had slipped into a coma and we were told she only had days left to live. Caleb and I had been out of town and were over 2 hours away. I got to Mom and Dad's house as fast as I could. As soon as I got there I sat next to Grandma's bed and finally told her all of the things I had been holding back. The things I was hoping I wouldn't have to say. I told her how much I loved her, how much I would miss her. I told her that we would be okay and that we knew she would be okay. I told her to hug those I loved that were already up in heaven, like Grammie (her mother) and my babies that I lost. I told her how happy I was that she was about to get that new body she'd been asking for. Then I leaned over and whispered in her ear "Go sing in heaven for me." Those that know me know how much I love to sing and worship. The whole time I said these things to her the tears just kept rolling down my face.
The greatest blessings for me came during Grandma's last 3 days. It was a blessing and a gift to have Grandma surrounded by those she loves most. My Aunts, Uncles, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins and their spouses and my children, nieces and nephews were there. We all took turns talking to Grandma, reading scripture to her, praying with/over her, listening to worship and singing over her. From Monday until she took her last breath early Thursday morning Grandma was never alone. We were all there caring for her and supporting each other.
I'll never forget those precious 3 days. The greatest gift for me was when Alli and I were sitting by her bed Monday telling her we loved her and watching as her body struggled to get the words "I love you too" out even though she was in a coma. Or watching her smile when she heard Josh Grobin playing in the background, or smiling whenever Mom or other family members told her they were with her and wouldn't leave her. Some of the best smiles I saw were when Ellie and I found Jenn and Reagan singing to her and we decided to join them. Like Jenn said, watching little hands touch Grandma's hand and caress her arms. It was such a gift to me to stay by Grandma's bed, singing to her Wednesday night, her last night alive.
Then, after she passed, the pain hit. It hit hard. I couldn't believe how quickly it came. How quickly I wanted Grandma back, how quickly that hole in my heart appeared. The tears and the sobbing came. Not just for me but for eveyone in that house that had put their lives on hold to be by Grandma's side over the past days and weeks. We cried and we held each other. We prayed together before Grandma's body was taken away. And again, amidst the pain, I felt love and mercy. We thanked God that Grandma did not have to suffer long. We thanked Him that she was reunited with her parents. We thanked him for her life and all that she had taught us and we asked him to reassure her that we were going to be okay.
It's been only 2 days. My thoughts are consumed with missing Grandma. I still can't believe she's gone. 5 weeks ago she was living on her own and driving. And now she's gone. I can't imagine life without Grandma Nancy. There's so much I will miss. I will miss hearing all of the nicknames she had for everyone, like calling Ethan "Cool Dude". I will miss seeing her on Saturday mornings at Bible study and learning from her. She always had words of wisdom to add.I will miss getting her cards in the mail, she was so good at sending cards for everything. I will miss seeing her at every birthday party, every holiday, and at church. I will miss going out for meals with her. Grandma loved to eat out. I will miss pickling with her. I will miss talking to her, her smile, her laughter. I just miss her.
Today I'm thankful that Grandma knows and loves Jesus. I'm thankful that she has a new body. I'm thankful for the beautiful gifts or "Mercies In Disguise" that God gave us over this past month as we walked this journey with Grandma. But most of all, I'm thankful that I will see Grandma again.
2014: page two hundred sixty-four
2 years ago