Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A final good-bye

I am hesitant to write this. I'm afraid of writing about something too personal, making myself vulnerable, touching upon a taboo topic. But the words are there, so I will write them.

I haven't dealt with death a lot. I'm not experienced in it and its nuances. I realize now what I always knew but didn't quite comprehend—that death comes in different ways. I wrote briefly of my grandpa's passing, which was sudden though not surprising. With my grandma, it's been much different. To know someone you love has been handed a death sentence is like having a constant cloud hanging over you. I've been waiting, each day slipping by with a slight feeling of dread. More than once, since I flipped my calendar to the month of March, I looked and knew the day was there in front of me, staring me in the face. It was selfish to hope it would be later rather than sooner. I didn't want to let go. Though I knew she was suffering, a part of me clung to the belief that as long as she was here on this earth, nothing had really changed. While I knew in my mind it was impossible, in my heart I hoped she would get better.

My grandma passed away on Saturday. The permanence of it means I must finally admit to myself that things have changed. With her goes a little piece of me. I feel guilty in my grief. Ming tried to comfort me, saying he knows how it feels because he lost his father. I told him that it's not the same. It isn't. To me, losing a parent who has not lived past middle age is a devastating loss. I can't imagine enduring the pain and unfairness of it. But losing a grandparent, one that lives a long and healthy life, is not a misfortune. I couldn't let Ming compare his loss to mine, because his seems so much greater. Still, it hurts to lose someone, no matter how old they were.

I hope I can age as my grandma did. She remained active, walking a mile every day, up until the last few months of her life. She was able to drive past her 90th birthday. And until three weeks ago, she was living in her own house. I know she was in some pain in her final weeks, but she was healthy most of her life. In fact, after my mom was born she didn't see a doctor for over 50 years. I think she was lucky in many ways, so I want to try my best to celebrate her rather than mourn her. Right now it's difficult, but I think each day it gets easier.

Her funeral is today and, being in China, I won't be attending. I am okay with that. I was able to see her last month and say good-bye. I'm grateful for the time I had with her and that she was able to meet both my husband and son. She will be missed.

JLM 06/09/24-03/21/15

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