Some thoughts on my grandma and her death on the eve of her birthday (August 29th).
My grandma passed away on September 27, 2013. She had a massive stroke (it wasn’t her first), was left severely disabled, and several weeks later, died from an infection she contracted while in a nursing facility. I was a few months pregnant from IVF #2 at the time. I was advised by my doctors not to visit her in the intensive care unit of the hospital, and later, at the nursing home where she was sent to “recover”. Recover is in quotes because the nursing home eventually killed her. I never got the chance to hold her hand and tell her I loved her. I never got the chance to tell her how sorry I was that she had suffered a crippling stroke. My mom was going to try and set up a Facetime conversation, but she passed away before that happened.
It was stressful and traumatizing to see her in that state of being. My mom’s face when she talks about the dark days after my grandma’s stroke tells me everything that she will never actually say out loud. My grandma couldn’t really speak or do anything for herself anymore. A fiercely independent woman couldn’t even brush her own teeth.
Almost a year after her death, I am left feeling very sad and empty. I didn’t get to say goodbye. There was no finality. My daughter is now here, and I am constantly reminded around every corner that my grandma is gone. I have visions of her when I go places we used to go together. I am haunted by what could have been; what should have been.
She was a quiet woman, and rarely ever discussed anything deeply personal. She lost her own mother when she was only thirteen years old. She never spoke of it to me. In the throes of our first IVF cycle, she told me she prayed every night that I would have a baby. I cherished every word of that short conversation we had about my infertility. She knew I was hurting, and there was nothing she could do about it. But her words gave me strength. I knew she was there for me.
When I found out I was pregnant, it gave me so much joy to call her and tell her the news. She was so happy for me and L. I never really talked to her again after that. It brings me some comfort to know that she knew I was pregnant. She didn’t get to meet the baby, but she knew there was a baby. I like to believe that she is the reason the baby was a girl. She was working a little magic from up above. The passing of one strong female was making way for the arrival of another tiny strong female.
I won’t get into the endless memories I have growing up with my grandma. There are way too many to count. I was lucky to know her for over thirty years. She was an amazing woman: smart, graceful, beautiful beyond words. She is a role model to me, and an inextricable link in the chain of my family’s history. I miss her every day. I love her more every day. In her absence, I have an even deeper appreciation for the woman she was. She lives on in my mind and in my heart. One day, my daughter will hear stories and will see pictures of her great-grandmother who loved her so much even though they never had the chance to physically meet.