My gma died today.
I dont feel like i have the words yet to make an eloquent entry about my grandmother’s and my relationship, but i also feel like i have to document this day, this thing, as it happens.
My dad called me yesterday to tell me they had rushed Gma to the hospital in an ambulance yesterday morning. i was supposed to becoming out for dinner anyway, so he told me to still come out but just to go to the house. Gma never wanted to die in a hospital, so they were going to take her home. They worried about transporting her here; if she would actually make the trip since she passed out cold whenever they took her off the oxygen. But she did. She wasnt awake really but shed sometimes be able to nod or shake her head in response to basic questions, like if she was cold.
Jeff came out, Amy arrived on the train, Tegan, Keir and Laurie flew in. Elli came home with my parents. Johnny and Bonnie and Lindy and Tom and Chris and Steph all came out for varying parts of the night. Amy, elli, tegan, keir, laurie and i stayed up most of the night in her bedroom watching her breathe and going through her costume jewelry and personal items that she used to keep on her dresser when we were kids. I passed out around 4am but my sister spent most of the night awake with her, and elli slept in her bed with her.
my sister woke me up this morning to tell me keir (who is my cousin but also a doctor) said she’d hit one of the stages of death with her irregular breathing and that it wasnt necessarily happening right then but that i should go upstairs soon. but she wanted to talk and i could tell so i let her, for awhile we just talked about gma and dying, and whether or not my oldest brother would be flying home.
then my dad came to the door in a panic and told us she was dying right then and we ran up the stairs half dressed in pyjamas and crammed into the tiny once-my-3 year old selfs-bedroom and we held her hand, and each other and watched her die.
my mom cried and hugged us. everyone cried and hugged everyone. through out the whole day everyone had their turns breaking out in tears but i learned that whenever i see my mother cry, i apparently will also start crying.
Elli wanted to do a ritual washing of her body and getting her out of her hospital gown and into her real clothes, to do her hair. I didnt participate in it but I was really appreciative she did it, as Gma’s body stayed in the bed for hours while they got the death certificate and the funeral homes and everything else worked out that hospitals normally take care of. it was good, to see her all made up back to look like herself without that weird embalming and make up you see at caskets. she just looked like she was laying asleep, only her chest wasnt moving and she was cold. but she also looked dead. not waxy and painted.
i didnt touch her after she was dead and i kind of regret not holding her hand or something but everyone was trying at first and there was always someone in the room and it never seemed like it would be that important. i still dont know if it is, really. i watch my mom in there saying her last words before the body was taken, hours later… like at least 4, maybe 5 hours… it was so surreal to all be hanging out in the house knowing her body was still there, but at the same time it was oddly comforting.
when her body was being taken out of the house and people were crying we made a joke about playing ‘patricia the stripper’.. a song that was some sort of inside joke between gma and my parents/aunts and uncles (her name was patricia).. so we did. her body was being wheeled out under a burgundy velvet cloth and we played patricia the stripper and cry laughed. it was a little garish to some i suppose, but it was us and i think she would have found it funny.
matt and his family flew in tonight and joe is flying in tomorrow. keir and tegan and here until sunday night. so sunday in the early afternoon we are all going to gathering do… something. she never wanted a funeral, she was the opposite of religious, so theres none of that to do or prepare. shes being cremated but we wont get the ashes back for at least a week or so, so the actual scattering of the ashes probably wont happen until christmas. I think ive decided im buying a silver vial necklace to put some of her ashes in. on the off chance i get married or have some major life event i can feel like shes with me. i think some of the family think thats really weird, but it brings me comfort.
the rest of the day was surprisingly normal. just like a giant family gathering. kind of like the wake after my dad’s dad died, but more upbeat. maybe that strange too, i dont know.
my grandmother was a great gma, to me and to the rest of the family. i have great memories of her from my entire life, right up until the end. i was always her crib partner and even at the end where she wasnt really making sense she could still count her points in crib. i need it forever noted that the last time we played crib we bet my parents both games and skunked them once. almost entirely because gma was getting all the points.
i told brandon my gma died and asked him to tell people so i didnt have to. and he did, he told everyone. and they all sent really nice text messages to me. i appreciate that.
its good to have close family and friends at times like these. all my friends keep offering to spend time together but with all my family here i dont want to break off just yet. still, its nice that theyve offered.
i am especially relieved that joe is making the trip. i know its a bit of a pointless trip for him because shes already died (but, at least he and his family had just visited), and we arent doing the ceremony until christmas or something when people can come back. but its good to grieve together i think? and it felt like he was missing. i think things are finally becoming ok with me mentally about my family now, because it really did just feel like we were incomplete without him home.
i think next week is going to be the hardest, when everyone leaves and theres not constant distractions and theres no one left to talk to. because i talk, even if its not about the thing thats wrong, i talk to process. theres a lot of other life stuff going on that ill probably write about later but this is going to be whats running in the background for awhile.
My Gma’s gone, and I loved her.