Holding a Hand

I spend far too much time on the computer. I search for images, articles and interesting tidbits to share. I do my best to step away from the world of social media when I can, but get tempted by the ping of status updates, new emails, and the lowly lure of my turn on one of the many online games I play (geek status with my faves being Scrabble and Word Crack – bring on more words!).

But the last week I have been distracted from writing, sharing, and caring about that world. My Grandmother is ill and my family has had to step up on caregiving duty. The challenge is that she lives about 1 1/2 hours from me. My sister lives about 1 1/2 hours from her in the other direction. My grandmother has three daughters, but one lives in BC, the other is in Florida, and the third is closer to home, but set to leave on a trip in a few day’s time. We have taken turns sitting at her bedside, but as of next week burden of care will be shared between my sister and I til she returns. And there is nothing I can do about that, but be thankful that I can.

It’s not the first time I have had to deal with serious illness. My husband was sick with cancer for 2 1/2 years before he passed away. I was on constant vigil then, plus had two children under 3 when he died. This time is different, but brings back hard memories of those difficult days. And as much as my grandmother is 94, has dementia, and has had a long and full life, it’s still hard to sit beside someone wondering how many breaths are left to them. Each rattling gasp could be the last. Or could give her the strength to open her eyes for one more day, week, month or year. There are some people who survive well into their 100s. Will she be one of them? Or will I be making arrangements with the funeral home within the week?

When I sat by my grandmother’s bedside in hospital a week ago, I held her thin, gray hand. Her eyes occasionally fluttered, but consciousness was fleeting at best. The ding of her IV when her tubing got pinched shot me back almost 9 years to when an alarm sent my husband over the edge and I lost what little was left of him. It is not pretty. But it is a part of life. This is death. Rather the hard process of dying. There are no rules, timelines or guides to help you plan your life around. It is one day at a time and there is nothing you can do about that, but wait to see what tomorrow brings. And today, I needed to talk about it.

I love my grandmother and wish her only the best. At present, I wonder what the best is. Should she let go her tentative hold on this universe to move on to the next? Do I beg her to stay to satisfy my greedy need of holding her lifeless hand once more? The choice is hers. I have told her that in whispered tones, as silent tears trickled down my cheeks. I wish her no more pain. Her better self will always live in my memories of baking bread, walks on pebble-littered beaches, and fishing in the wide-open expanse of the ocean. She will always be the baker of the best cookies, the one that kept her household running, and a soul who loved me generously and for always.

This post has nothing to do with grammar, writing, social media, or business. It has everything to do with life and allowing it to touch us, hold us, and carry us forward to tomorrow. My grandmother might not be here for much longer, but I will sit by her bedside holding her hand as long as I can. And when her hand is gone, she will own her place in my memory forever more with love.

Love you Grammy

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2 thoughts on “Holding a Hand”

  1. Wow! What an amazing post. I totally get what you’re saying about reminders because, as you know, we share similar memories of our husbands being sick and in hospital and dying (how else can you say it). You are kind and brave. I really admire you. Your grandmother is lucky to have you by her side to help her on her journey. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You do it because you have to, because you can, and because you would want someone to do the same for you if the roles were reversed. It’s not easy, as you well know Suzanne, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can. Being here is the least I can do for a woman who deserves to know she is loved

      Liked by 1 person

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