Sunday, November 21, 2010
A bunch of numbers. A date, a time.
That's when my grandmother passed away.
I guess, I should start from the beginning. For the past five years or so, my grandmother had her bouts of illness, but she always bounced back and recovered. It wasn't until the last five months that she became a frequent flyer for hospitalization, and started her decline. Although it was noticeable, I was a bit in a denial. Why?
It's because this was my grandma. She raised me for most of my early years up to age 3, for my parents were too busy working and taking care of my older brother. So, often I would stay at her home for months on end. She would take care of my cousins also at this time, so it was a very close time. I've learned my horrendous accent from her, even learning our old language of a toi sang- cantonese mix hybrid.
We received a call around midnight, which is actually when I was turning off my laptop to go to sleep. I eavesdropped snippets of my mother on the phone: "no pulse?" and so on. I knew what that meant, but I still was in denial and held myself until I could see for myself...
When we reached the facility, I ran. I ran past my uncle, red-eyed and calling relatives. I ran past my grandpa, sobbing in the lobby. I ran down the halls, past staff, just ran until I reached her room.
But, at the sight of her face, I broke. She was no longer hooked onto oxygen, and her face was serene. For the past few months, whenever I saw her, I would see pain etched on her face. Her brows were furrowed, her skin red and diaphoretic. She would be gasping for air, even with the oxygen as assistance. I cried a lot. I cried for my grandmother, unable to talk to her again. I cried, for with this also comes the mortality of those I love. I also cried out of relief, for it had been a long time since I had seen her face so smooth and calm.
My grandmother had an acute onset that just descended downhill, starting in the summer. The first time I went to visit her in the hospital, she didn't know who I was. This really affected me, to have no recall of you, plus I thought this showed how severe her illness was. But, as the visit went on, she remembered. She smiled, and said , "I recognize you now. How could I forget you? You're my granddaughter. I didn't recognize you at first because you've become so beautiful."
I've also just realized that this was the last coherent thing she said to me.
The past few months have been very stressing. I like to keep things like this to myself, so I didn't really tell anyone. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, and I especially don't want people being nice to me ONLY because they feel sorry for me. I'd like to think that I'm tough enough to not have to rely on someone for comfort. SO, I apologize for being short-tempered, anxious, or not hanging out when you want to.
Although this has been going on, my denial was pretty strong though. It wasn't until a trip to the ICU 2 months ago that I realized that she wasn't going to get better, after I had talked to the nurse about her previous level of functioning, when she said " Poor thing. She's just withering away..."
Except, when I heard it, I knew it to be true. But, I tucked it away to not touch my heart. My older relatives like my uncles were actually mad that I had a breakdown, even saying that I should expect it because she's old and sick, and to get over it. When I first heard them say this, I got pissed and thought they were being crotchety old people, but then I realized...that maybe, because they were older and wiser, that they had mentally prepared for this day.
Eventually, we're all going to die. It may or may not be in the most comfortable conditions, or the ideal scenario. I guess...what I'm trying to say is that, I'll try my best to mend my heart, and not forget...but remember those I love with happy memories.
Thank you, grandma. I know you're already gone, healthy and in Heaven. I love and miss you, and hope you realize that we didn't send you to the facility to die, but in hopes of getting better.
From your eldest granddaughter, with love.