A long time smoker who'd quit many years ago, her lungs had been damaged. She was lucky to never have gotten cancer, but her lungs were so compromised that she often suffered debilitating infections. The week she died, she was in the hospital with pneumonia. After five days of treatment, she was doing better--we thought she might make it. Then she had a stroke. She died the next day.
I was vacationing in St. Paul when it all went down. I was unable to get back in time to see her while she was still alive. That makes me sad.
Our family is shattered of course. It's sad enough when any loved one dies, but to lose two, and so soon after one another is rough. Not many of my friends who are my age or older still have living grandparents, and these were my last ones. They were also the only ones I'd ever been close to, so the loss really hits home. I feel very lucky to have been able to enjoy them and share our lives for 37 years.
Of course I'm terribly sad, but my poor mother is simply devastated. She'd been their primary caregiver over the last several years, and we are all happy that even at their frailest, they were able to live out their lives at home, instead of having to go to a nursing facility.
But while their departure marks a certain kind of new freedom for my mother, she is first experiencing this freedom as a gaping void. Some of the things that most gave my mother's life shape have been ripped away suddenly. It's really quite a traumatic experience. I can't even imagine it.
Little things are sometimes the most difficult: seeing her toiletries in the bathroom out at the family homestead...leftovers in the fridge, a depression in the pillow she was sitting on before the last time she got up.
As sad as I am, as much as I wish I could have my sweet Grandma back, it has to be said that there is something existentially kind about her being able to pass so soon after her lifetime partner. Perhaps she wasn't meant to live alone, without grandpa. Perhaps she knew she'd done what she could do, what she needed to do.
Needless to say, these losses--these deaths--have me feeling extremely contemplative about myriad things. I've been thinking a lot about aging, health, mortality. I've reflected a lot on relationships and what they mean to me.
I'll probably have some gratuitous musings to share on these subjects. For now, I'm sure I can be excused for being relatively quiet--and for not really paying much attention to my diet or CRON.