On Death and Days Like Today

My grandmother is dying.

I was never terribly close with her — which is perhaps something worth mourning in and of itself — so I don’t feel qualified to tell her stories or presume to know what she’s going through right now. Experiencing the death of a friend or family member, however, has a way of jolting us back into our present tense and forcing us to face our own fears and beliefs on mortality. For my grandmother, her fight is almost over. It won’t ever get better, and I ache with fear and sadness wondering what must be going through her mind, knowing her short time left is slipping by.

Just before receiving the sad news of my grandmother’s current condition, I heard my almost-two-year-old crying in her crib after hearing a siren pass. I ran up to soothe her and lay her back down for her nap and then almost immediately heard my three-year-old jumping on his bed as well. I hurried over to his room, tucked him back in with an exasperated sigh, and crossed my fingers they would stay put this time. I’d had my own overdue lunch waiting for me downstairs, work to be done, a fussy infant to feed. I was tired and eager for a break from the chaos, in a kind of self-serving survival mode.

And then I got the call that things were looking bleak, that my grandmother was barely hanging on, with one foot in this world and one in the next. The thought of her laying in a bed somewhere, reflecting on her long life and preparing to step into the complete unknown, shook me to my core. Is she thinking about days like this? I wondered.

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