Being wounded hurts, but it’s the healing that’s most painful…
I had mentioned that I’ve been presented with a couple deaths recently and one of those was my grandma, who has been ill for several years now.
Two weeks ago, I made the six hour drive from my home in Salem, Oregon, to a teensy, speckle-on-the-map town in Eastern Oregon called Prairie City. My dad had let me know that my grandma, his mom, had been rapidly declining in the past week or so and that he and my mom were heading over to stay with my aunt and uncle and, well, basically wait for her to die. So, away I went.
I arrived Thursday evening and joined my parents at the nursing home where we sat in my grandma’s recliners and watched her lie in her bed, resting peacefully. Apparently she had been non-responsive and resting like this for a couple days at that point. She was relatively stable so the nursing staff kindly encouraged us to go home and get some sleep – the house was only a few blocks away and they would call if even the slightest change in condition.
The next day, we went straight to the nursing home to sit idly by and wait. My mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and I all took turns hanging out with grandma, who was still unresponsive and “resting”. Around 7pm, my aunt and uncle went home to put dinner in the oven; they called when it was done – around 7:45. My dad was hungry but didn’t want to leave his momma, so I went to the house to collect some dinner to bring back. I probably hadn’t been gone 5 minutes and that’s when grandma chose to leave this earth.
Now, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence; people often hang on the cusp of death for days, then, when their loved ones finally leave the room for a second – just to get coffee or go to the bathroom – that’s when they make their great escape from our world. However, I believe that this was a very strategic move for my grandma. Just a couple hours earlier, she had had “a fit,” as my aunt called it. She went from appearing to rest comfortably, to her entire body tensing up and her eyes bolting open – as if she were reenacting a scene from Poltergeist. It was terrifying and we thought we were witnessing the awful, painful end…but she wasn’t leaving quite yet. She had this “fit” one more time that evening, but she didn’t throw in the towel. After seeing this horrific display the first time, my uncle pleaded to grandma’s late husband and cried, “Okay, Bishop, it’s time…come get her.” It was about an hour later that I had gone to pick up dinner.
My grandma’s husband (which I say because I can’t bring myself to call him a grandpa) had molested me when I was young. He died many years before my grandma – I can’t say I was sad for that loss – and I had never dealt with that trauma, ever. I don’t think I’ve even told any family about it. I did what any Catholic-raised girl ought to do: I buried that trauma, painted a permanent, polite smile on my face, and I ate my feelings; I consoled my pain through food and eventually turned to other methods.
Anyhow, I was disgusted that “Bishop” would be the one to “come get” my grandma; though she loved that man more than he ever deserved to be loved, and I know that she would be looking forward to seeing him. I believe with my whole, entire heart and soul – every fiber of my being – my grandma made damn sure that I wasn’t in the room when she died, so that I wouldn’t be exposed to the energy of her husband. I believe that her spirit left her body hours before she was medically dead. I also believe that when she crossed over, she learned the kind of pain that her husband caused me and didn’t want me to have to be exposed to him, in any way, ever again.
And this is why I cried when she died.
She loved me so much.
Today, I am grateful for reopening old wounds.