Both Sides of It
February 01, 2011
Jason's grandma died yesterday. It was...not unexpected. It was also peaceful, and one of those instances where crappy platitudes about it "being her time" and "for the best, really" are actually, entirely true. She was very old and very sick -- dementia had long since robbed her of most of the memories of her life and the chance to forge a relationship with Noah and Ezra, her great-grandchildren, whom she was simply unable to recognize in any meaningful, connected way.
I met her over 14 years ago. At that point, the dementia was simply the occasional moment of confusion or befuddlement, but on some visits it was clear that she was already mixing up our relationship, treating me like her grandchild and Jason like the interloping boyfriend. We'd sit together and hold hands and she'd tell me stories. She gave us both furious hugs and kisses when it was time for us to leave, making us promise we'd visit again soon, which of course we assured her we would. Of course!
I never had a grandmother like that. But then suddenly, I did.
Jason got to visit with her one last time on Saturday, though she was already mostly gone, asleep in a peaceful morphine haze to block her pain while nature took its final course. I stayed behind with the boys, wanting to shield them from...well, I don't know. Life. Death. A final memory of her being "like that," as I try to remember beyond the last time I saw her, which was an awful thing to see, because she was in so much pain and our very presence seemed to unnerve and frighten her. I sensed it was probably our last visit, or very close to it, but I still gingerly kissed her cheek and said I'd see her again soon.
Yes, it was her time. And for the best, really.
But. Oh, I will miss her. I will miss my Grandma.
I saw my dad on Friday. We had a wonderfully long, easy talk together. He still laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh in return. I told him the baby's name and we decided that his middle name sounds pretty much perfect with it, so there you go. Noah and Ezra climbed in bed with him and posed for a series of truly terrible photos, since Noah kept kicking his legs up in front of his face while Ezra preferred to sit with his butt facing the camera.
Before we left, Ezra begged him to do his PopPop trick -- this funny popping sound he can make with his cheek and pinkie finger, a trick that delighted me as a child and something that I've yet to see exactly replicated by anyone else I've met. Ezra laughed and demanded more, again, c'mon! and tried to mimic the finger-pop but couldn't quite manage it.
It was just like any other visit with Nana and PopPop, except that PopPop doesn't get out of bed anymore. Eh, they don't care. That's where all the kitty cats hide, after all, and the big mirrored closet doors in the master bedroom make an awesome stage for preschooler dramatic performances, you know.
Jason thought he seemed really tired and pale. I thought he seemed just fine. I mean, considering.
Today, he's in the hospital again. Fever, ridiculously low platelet counts, lungs full of fluid. When he coughs, his throat bleeds. The blood and plasma transfusions no longer seem to be helping, but they're trying again. He spent the entire night in the emergency room, because the hospital was completely full. I'm waiting for a morning update to hear if he's been admitted or not, or whether he'll go home again...or not.
This is not the chemo, the doctor said, because they usually blame the chemo, or a reaction to some other drug or procedure. This is the leukemia.
He's surprised us so many times before, of course, that I'm starting to expect good news now. Or...good-ish news. Not-terrible news. Just watch, he'll go home today, I bet, and will stubbornly insist on going back for more chemo in a week or two, because that's the plan, and the way it is. I'm starting to expect that the three-to-six months time frame we were given four months ago won't apply to us, somehow, just because. Those crappy mourning platitudes from the first part of this post don't fit, at all, and in fact make me feel kind of stabby and stomach-punchy at the very thought of someone saying them to me.
Before I left on Friday I kissed him and said I'd see him again soon.
It still feels true. For now, I still believe it, every time.
That was supposed to be the last sentence, right there, but my phone just lit up with a text message from my mom:
They're sending him home.
See? I knew it. I was right. This time, I was still right. Okay. Okay.