Processing Death

As of this writing, my 89 year-old grandmother is in her bed and, if what the doctors told us is true, has between two weeks to a few months left to live. The news isn’t quite a shock, as she’s had two lengthy stays at the hospital since last October, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to hear.

During a human’s lifespan, 89 years is quite a long time. It’s about 11 years more than the average life expectancy in the United States, and when you consider the fact that my grandma spent most of the past 25 years on her couch and ate better than most, it seems almost Herculean. I wish she could get out of bed, take her spot at the end of the couch and watch CNN or old westerns with me, but I think the only cowboy on her mind at the moment is my grandpa.

Being around for the eventual passing of my grandma feels different than losing my dad. His passing came at us like a sucker punch. One minute, he was cleaning fish after a long day spent at the lake with my uncle. Then, as he slept that night, his heart exploded. We had no time to prepare, no time to say goodbye or share stories. However, he did get to spend his final day doing what he loved most: fishing. I suppose if you’re going to be meeting the Reaper in a manner of hours, doing the things you enjoy most isn’t a bad way to spend what little time you have left.

Watching my grandma slowly die in her bed feels worse, though. She’s almost like a baby: she can’t walk, she has to eat soft foods, and she has to go to the bathroom in a diaper. I’m glad she’s still able to speak. Before she passes, I’m going to spend time with her, talking about her life and asking questions that she can hopefully still answer. I’d like to write it all down and put together a eulogy for her.

I think she’d like that.

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