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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Being thankful for the wonderful gift her life has been to this world.




The past few weeks have been tough. I got a call on Valentine’s Day that my Grandmother’s time was limited. It’s funny how drastic life’s ups and downs can be; how quickly things can change from one minute to another; how much one phone call or conversation can change your entire world.              
Being a parent is a tough job, and it is made even tougher by moments of sorrow. The idea of telling your kiddos something that will break their hearts seems unnatural. We spend our entire lives protecting them from pain, and during these times, there is no choice but to hurt them.
The day I found out about my grandmother, I sat both boys down and my heart raced as I explained, “Mama’s body is tired and she is telling us that she is done. Her life has been long and full…” They seemed to understand the best they could. I marveled at how differently they reacted.

 Hunter (my 14 year-old with Asperger's Syndrome) said, “Well, I’m not surprised, I have been expecting this for a long time.” He said it in a way that showed his sadness and pain, but he was very direct with his words. I assured him that feeling that way was perfectly fine because he had probably been preparing himself.

Grant (my NT 9 year-old) began to analyze what this would mean in his life (he is definitely my son)! He began to speak about how this would be the first death of someone he loved and how he would always remember it. He was very sad and confused about his emotions. I just held him, unsure what words could help in that moment.

When you are losing a loved one, your heart has to decide how to deal with the pain. You have to really contemplate what you can do to find peace. Living fourteen hours away from my Grandmother,  I had to do a lot of soul searching about whether I needed to make the trip to see her one last time. I finally made the decision that I would only feel right if I saw her again. It was going to cause lots of travel headaches and school conflicts, but I needed to get home. It was the only way to have peace in my heart.

I wanted to give the boys the option to see her one last time. I figured they were old enough to make that decision for themselves. I told them there was no right or wrong decision, but they had the option to go home and see her one last time.  I was so proud of both of them. They immediately told me how they felt.
Hunter immediately said, “I don’t want to see her again. I don’t want to remember her that way.” I totally understood how he felt. I had the same fear. I was so impressed with his ability to be in touch with his feelings and express his emotions.
Grant emphatically said, “I want to see her!!!” I knew he felt the same way I did. His heartstrings were being pulled. He needed the closure.

We began making the travel arrangements. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The snow just started falling and it seemed like it would never stop. We decided we had to put our travels off for a week.
By this time, my Grandmother was losing weight at a rapid pace and her eating had severely declined. I called and told her we were coming home to see her. She didn’t seem to understand much of what I was saying, but when I told her I was coming home, she weakly said, “when”. I knew in my heart that she was waiting on me. I called her several days that week to assure her that I would be home soon. Each time, she would ask how long until I would be home.

Finally, I made it home. I walked into her room. She lifted her head slightly to look at me, but no words were spoken. I sat down on the bed next to her. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I said my final goodbyes. I held her thin, fragile hand and tried my best to smile through the tears. I had no way of knowing for sure that she knew what I was saying. I just knew with every last bit of my soul that I had to get it all out, for me and for what was left of my Grandmother’s spirit.
I softly spoke to her, “I love you and I’m so sorry you have to go through this. You are an amazingly strong woman and I know this is not what you want. I just want you to know that I’ll be okay. I will be okay because you taught me how to be strong. I don’t want to lose you for selfish reasons, but I love you too much to see you like this. I just want you to know that if you are too tired, it’s okay."

I brought her hand up to my lips and softly kissed it…as I took her hand away from my mouth, I felt her gentle tug as she brought my hand to her mouth and gently kissed me back.
Losing her is hard, but I know she would expect me to hold it all together. I am trying to focus on the positive memories we have shared and focus on the wonderful gift her life has been to this world.