Letting go of someone you love is never easy. It is probably one of the hardest parts of being a human, coping with the death of a loved one. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this subject, I have never lost a family member who I was close to, or I was too young to remember the death. In the near future it seems I will be facing the inevitable and saying goodbye to my maternal Grandmother.
My Grandmother is the only grandparent I ever knew. My father’s parents passed away before I was born and my mother’s father was never around. As for other deaths in my family, my step father passed away a few years ago, but we never got a long and though I sympathized for my mother, it was not emotional for me. Last year my mother’s sister passed away, and though losing an Aunt is typically a sad thing, I never really knew her. My mother had a lot of siblings and I was only ever really close to one of them. So again, I sympathized with my mother, but I was not too emotional over the situation.
Which brings me to now. No, my grandmother has not passed away yet, but early last Friday morning my Grandmother woke my aunt up having terrible chest pains and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My grandmother is not the picture of health, so the phone tree started and soon I found myself being the one to call my mother and tell her the news. I waited patiently for any news they had, and was upset to learn that my grandmother would need a quadruple bypass surgery. Heart surgery is a MAJOR thing, even if WebMd and other articles say that it is a routine surgery with low chances of complications, to preform the surgery they stop your heart and lungs and use a machine to pump blood and oxygen to your body. My first thought of course is what happens if they go to restart the heart and it doesn’t work?
None of this mattered though, the day after hearing this news I received a distressed phone call from my mother informing me that the surgery had been taken off the schedule. When admitted to the hospital, my grandmother underwent a series of scans and her CT scan showed a large amount of nodules in her lungs. Once a specialist had reviewed the scans he informed my family that my grandmother would most likely only live for another month or two, so to do the surgery would mean she would spend her remaining time alive bed ridden and recovering from surgery instead of enjoying her days with family. It was revealed that my grandmother has a severe and advanced form of lung cancer.
The amount of feelings you go through when you hear this kind of news is overwhelming. It probably took me a good fifteen minutes to regain the ability to speak. From there, it ranged from feeling completely numb to wanting to curl into a ball and never venture back into the world again. I finally settled on distracting myself for the rest of the day until I was ready to face the emotions I as going through. The emotion that hurts the most is the guilt I feel over how little time I have mad for my family over the past few years. I moved away from where I spent my entire life back in 2007 and my last visit there was in 2009 when I was going on a trip to Ireland with a friend and we departed from there. Since then, I have completely devoted myself to my education and career.
My grandmother is proud of everything I have done with my life. I would never for a moment doubt that she is fully okay with how I have chosen to live my life, but the feeling of guilt is so horrible to deal with. It is almost paralyzing in a way, I don’t want to do anything. I do not want to eat, I do not want to sleep, I do not want to work, I do not want to write. All I do is stare blankly at a wall pretty much asking myself why I did not take the time to go visit more often. Why, every year, did I say that I would visit the next year and then never go. For about two years, I would visit my grandmother every day after school (this was after I had turned 16 and received my drivers license). Then I moved away and never looked back. It is a terrible feeling. It is terrible talking to her now and hearing her say that she misses the days when I would just drop in to see her every day and how she hopes I come visit her soon.
I will be visiting my grandmother soon, but knowing I will see her soon does nothing to alleviate the guilt I have that it took a dire diagnosis for me to finally book a plane ticket. I have never lost someone who has truly occupied a large part of my heart. Just the thought of losing my grandmother makes me feel like I am going to break into a million pieces, but it does serve to teach me a valuable lesson. Never take for granted that there is always another day. I assumed that I had time with my grandmother and that I could always visit her, I assumed that she would be sitting at my wedding next year and would be taking photos with me and future husband. As my heart breaks, my eyes open and I see that I can no longer put off tomorrow what can be done today.