November 06, 2005

It was very hard

I spent much of the day at the hospital yesterday. Well, maybe that wasn't true. We spent about four hours there. We brought the children with us. They played in my grandfather's room while he slept and while he had small seizures in his sleep. They are used to his being in a hospital setting, having visited him most weekends while he was in the rehab facility, so this was not disturbing for them. Although we did tell the Girl Child that he was dying. Having the kids at the hospital, along with my uncles and my mother, made it seem much better somehow. Much less scary, much more like death is a normal part of life. I am not explaining this well and I don't know that I can. It is just that they were not shielded from this experience and the way they regularly went over to him in the course of their play to talk to him and tell him that they loved him and to tell him the news about our new baby just made it seem so every day. They were not scared by his appearance. In fact, the Boy Child insisted that I hold him up so that he could kiss his great grandfather on his cheek. Twice. The Girl Child insisted on the same.

We don't know how much my grandfather heard of all this. He was drifting in and out of his stupor and having multiple small seizures.

He's had a major stroke, as it turns out. There is no hope of improvment and he wants nothing heroic, nothing invasive done to him to prolong his life. I cannot blame him in this. The man can no longer swallow as a result of the stroke.

I stayed with him when everyone went to get lunch. I just couldn't bring myself to leave.

He woke at around 3:30. I was sitting next to him and I held his hand. He held my hand very tightly.

I tried so very hard not to cry. Just like I'm trying now. Mostly its working.

The Girl Child wanted to know why I was so sad and I explained it to her later.

It seemed to me that he was trying to say goodbye to me. I think he was. At least, sitting here now I am sure of it. I talked to him about some of my cherished memories, I held his hand tightly while he experienced pain, he tried to speak to me, I held on when I was afraid I was going to break down entirely and couldn't trust myself to speak, I somewhere found inside myself a place where I could speak to him calmly and soothingly. He knew I was there and he knew who I was and he nodded in the right places.

I relinquished my spot after about 20 minutes to my aunt, his sister. She's the eldest so she must be about 95. She was driven down by my cousin, her daughter, from New Jersey. It took two hours and I think that they both knew that they were saying goodbye. They were very close all their lives.

I abhor melodrama and I don't think I am being melodramatic here. But, while he was talking to his sister, I locked eyes with my grandfather from the foot of his bed. His eyes, for just a moment, looked so fierce to me, so filled with resolve and with the spark. So trapped in his frail body. I felt as if he were saying goodbye to me.

I'm going back this morning.

Just because I think he may have already said goodbye to me doesn't mean for a moment that I have said goodbye to him. Or that I'm going to let him die without my being there for him.

We've always been very close. I have no doubts that while he loves all of his grandchildren very much, I was the first born and I was without question his favorite.

I hate this.

He was right, some months ago, when he told my father that it is very hard to come into this world and it is just as hard going out.

Posted by Random Penseur at November 6, 2005 06:00 AM