26 Mar Love, Your Granddaughter Pt. 1
There are things you know will happen but you try your best to not think about those things and just avoid them. My grandmother has been in and out of the hospital for years with congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a weakness of the heart that leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs and surrounding body tissues. For years, my family has received calls letting us know she was in the hospital. “Samantha, your mamaw is in the hospital again.” I would just shrug my shoulders and sign deeply. It wasn’t new news to any of us. Each time, she would recover and go back home. I was never worried about it all.
November 2018, my mamaw went into the hospital. Same old stuff from my understanding. This time, I didn’t shrug… I began to worry. I couldn’t understand why I was worrying so much but it was bad. Soon as she went into the hospital, she fell and broke her ankle. It was her final day in there and she was going to go home to be with family. My uncle said she was using her walker and had a nurse aid as well. He said all he could think of is that her ankle gave out as she was walking. I told my uncle that I wanted to come visit soon but I couldn’t because my husband’s family wanted to spend new year’s together in Florida at Universal. We didn’t have money for a huge trip to Universal and also another trip to Kentucky. We own our own store and having it close for so long will hurt the store, money wise. Time came and went.
Just like that, she was in a nursing home going through therapy on her leg. She hated it. She would call my mom and ask if we could come get her. She didn’t want to be there but she needed to be there. She needed 24/7 care and needed to be able to bare weight on her ankle before she could be released. From my understanding, she was upset being there and felt like everyone betrayed her. She wanted to be home in the comfort of her own bed and surrounded by her photos of family.
January comes and just like that she was back into the hospital. They removed 40 some odd pounds of fluid off of her lungs and was trying to get her back up and going, so she could be healed enough to go home. I continued to worry and I went on about my own business. I tried to get my life organized and put together that way I could fill the time I did have with family and friends. Dealing a lot with anxiety and depression can really be hard to keep your life organized in a way to function properly. I’ve been trying to clean and get rid of many things in my life to give myself more time with those I loved. But… it was too late.
I got a call on February 2nd saying my mamaw was not doing well. It appeared as the same old stuff but I knew something was wrong. I immediately called my mom and told her we needed to go visit her that week. I text my brother and he called back and I explained everything to him. We all knew but didn’t want to think too much of it. As a few days went by, we finalized some days for visiting. It was my dad, mom, brother, sister-in-law, great-niece, and myself. As we were packing, we all decided to bring some clothes “just in case”. I can’t tell you the feelings that went through me as I packed for a funeral that may or may not happen. Just the fact that we were thinking that at all was enough to keep my heart full of pain. Right before we left, we received a video call from one of my uncle’s showing her in the hospital bed and telling us that she may not make it by time we arrive, so we should go ahead and say goodbye. I couldn’t speak and just held my breath. Every breath she took, I’d take. In between, I couldn’t breathe when I wasn’t sure if she’d wait for me. We left at 6 pm February 6th, 2019.
I didn’t want to stop for anything during the entire trip. I couldn’t forgive myself if she passed on before I got there all because I stopped to use the rest room or picked up a quick dinner. The thing about traveling with other people is that you can’t always control everything that happens. We did have to stop but between all of it, I worked on making bracelets. A few days prior, I made a bracelet for my mamaw. I knew as I was making it… that I was saying goodbye. I cried on each bead. I prayed on each bead. I put every bit of love and intention into making it for her. I also made a matching one. I wanted her to know that I was always with her no matter what and that she is with me, too.
We got into town and went straight to the hospital, arriving at 10:45 pm. I entered her room around 10:55 pm. She was surrounded by family. They got up and walked out into the hall to allow us some time with her. My mom immediately started talking to her. It sort of freaked me out because in my mind I was telling myself she was just sleeping and to not disturb her, but in my heart I knew it was the last time to talk to her. She was still there by time we arrived…She couldn’t respond but she knew we were there. I couldn’t speak. Just seeing her like this took my breath away. Anxiety built up in my chest and my eyes began to fill with tears. I immediately pulled out the bracelet I made for her. I knew I was saying goodbye. My mom told her I made her something but I couldn’t put it on her. I couldn’t get myself to move forward with doing it. My mom and uncle helped to place the bracelet on her and I tightened it around her right wrist.
9 crystal beads were on the bracelet. 9 is an important number in a lot of different religions but more directed towards Christianity in this case. The beads were Rose Quartz for love, White Quartz for peace in passing on, and Amethyst for spiritual protection and purification. Each set of beads were spaced with angels. As I was making it, I knew I was saying goodbye through it so it was appropriate for me to make a bracelet of passing. I may be someone full of words but there are times where nothing comes out at all. I didn’t want to actually say the word – Goodbye.
I held on to her hand for a bit. I didn’t want to sit there too long because I wanted other people to have the opportunity to hold her hand, too. As I was sitting there with her warm hand in mine… all I could think about was how I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the oxygen, the swelling, or the bruising on her body. I wasn’t prepared to see her in the position she was laying or the gasps of air that I couldn’t tell if they were hers or not – if they were her last or not. I had no clue what I was walking into… not the details at least. As I placed her arm back under the blanket and got up, I took a look around and noticed everyone looking at her.
I stood there just thinking, “Is this really what death is like? People you love staring at you slowly fading away while their hearts are breaking?” I’ve been to funerals before and even around people who were passing, but it was nothing compared to this day. It was the first time I actually experienced truly losing someone in front of me and not being able to do anything about it. I walked out of the room and met with some of my other family in the waiting room. Eventually my mother and I left to go get rest around 1:30 am. As we arrived to my mamaw’s house, I was overcome with memories of everything.
Since her house has been determined unlivable, there was a single-wide placed next to it. Pulling into her drive was like I never left. I have this weird ability to remember almost everything. I remembered exactly how she had everything laid out. That was probably due to it never really changing but even then, I think I would remember the last time I was there. As we walked into her new home, my first thought was, “This is cute!” Small but spacious and looked nice. I’m glad she was able to spend her final better days in something clean and not falling apart.
One of my uncles asked if we wanted to sleep in his room or my mamaw’s. I didn’t want to sound like I didn’t want to sleep in his but I really wanted to sleep in her’s. After everyone not really saying much I went ahead and moved my things to her room. As I opened up her room, I instantly felt her. The same portrait of Jesus hung above her bed that has been in her house for a half a century, a shelf of family photos, and more photos covering all the surfaces of her room. There were some hearing aids on one side of the bed, some jewelry in a small box, and bracelets that looked like something a child gave her. Too tired to keep my eyes open any longer, I put on my night clothes and went to bed around 3am. I set my alarm for 8am to get up and go back to the hospital. I fell asleep decently fast but didn’t stay asleep for long.
Around 6 am, I woke up. I was absolutely wide awake and I couldn’t figure out why I was so awake when I have only been sleeping for about three hours. I laid there trying to get comfortable to go back to sleep when it happened… A loud powerful storm came in. The house was shaking, the rooms lit up from lightning, and a loud downpour of rain took over all noise. Deep down inside, I knew she passed. I could feel it in my soul that she was gone. It was as if the storm was her fighting to stay with her family… to be with everyone she loved.
**** Images and names have been hidden for privacy of my family and to document but respect the events that have taken place.