Monday, December 22, 2008


I didn't know that I was living in a happy little bubble until this summer. I thought I had gone through things; I was well-versed in the tragedies of life. I have a crazy family that maybe one day I'll talk about here. And sure, I know all about the worst and best sides of blended families.

I wrote in a journal. I got my sorrows out on my hand-crafted paper journals from Tibet.

Then, eventually, I was happy. I am happy. I didn't write as much. The sorrows I had to write about seemed trivial (which they were). I had matured. But I knew that I always had my journals if I should need them.

Fast forward to July 2008.

There is always The Worst Thing Ever that we think about and The Worst Thing Ever that never crosses our minds; the tragedy that you prepare for and the one that hits you out of no where. Let me tell you - there ain't a whole lot of difference between the two. It doesn't matter how much you prepare, it doesn't matter how likely something is, it doesn't matter. It still hurts. It still takes the breath out of you. It still makes you angrier than you've ever been in your whole life.

I always feared that my grandmother would die. She's had health problems since I was young, so I worried that it was around the corner. All I wanted, and all I prayed for when that was still something I did regularly, was that she would be there for my wedding, because there was nothing she loved more than weddings and I was (am) next on the list.

So when I got the Phonecall, it still took the breath out of me. Pneumonia. That's not that bad right?
It wasn't pneumonia, it was lung cancer and it only took a week and a half for it to kill her. A week and a half. A WEEK AND A HALF. I'm so angry. I'm furious.

There are things that I've never told anyone. I've never told anyone how when I was holding my grandmother's hand while we took her off life support, I heard a voice. It was not her voice, it was just a very clear voice. It gave me a number. 56. I think. (You think that's something you'll never forget, but now I can't remember if it was 54 or 56 or 52.) When we left the room after she had taken her last breath, I looked at the time. It was 10:56 (or 54, or 52). I started to laugh. Because what the hell does that mean? What is the point of that. Of all of the things the Great Mystical Voice could have told me, It gave me her exact time of death? Thanks. Really.

I've never told anyone that I briefly thought I would become religious after my grandmother died. I thought I would find her in the church she loved. I was wrong. I've never really believed in any sort of church. Or really Jesus or God or whatever. Just in something. Now I feel that belief in something slipping away. Because you know what? I can't find her. I can't feel her. I don't believe she is watching over me. I wish I did.

I've never told anyone that even though all my aunts have had dreams where my grandmother visits them and tells them essentially that everything will be all right, I have only had nightmares. Until the night before last. We were waiting for my Dad, step-mother and non-existent step-brother get out of daycare. My grandmother and I were sitting next to each other and I kept saying, through tears, I miss you so much. I miss you so much. And she just smiled and said, I miss you too. Like she was in NJ and I was in VA. Not dead. She was confused. And I just kept saying it. I miss you so much, I miss you so much.

And I do.

I've never told anyone that sometimes I say to myself "Everyone's grandparents die. Stop crying." 66 is so young. 2 weeks is not enough time to say goodbye. My grandmother and I were best friends. So why didn't I call her back that time? Why didn't I? Christmas Eve will be 1 year since I've seen her, as herself, not as the strange thing I saw at the hospital.

I've never told anyone that I threw a chair in the hospital when no one was looking.

I didn't mean to write this. I didn't set out to. But maybe I feel better now that I have.


Jackie said...

Wow,Leslie.I felt your grief.I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother.I lost my grandfather to lung cancer in August,We shared the same birthday ,it was in sept.I can also relate to your unique experience.I lost my father at the age of 41(1994),suddenly,he wasnt ill ,that we knew of.A month before he died I had several intuitive moments.I had a moment before I awoke when I saw what happened,it wasnt a dream because it was fast but when I woke up I had this horrible feeling and I knew that he had died of a heart attack.Of course I told him about the feeling but he was young and didn't worry .A month later it happened as I saw.I got cold chills when i read your story.I have felt alot of those same feelings, It does get less painful,you never forget, but the memories get easier, I think of my dad sometimes and actually smile instead of cry from the pain.HUG!!

Jason Gignac said...

I've never had a death really affect me. I think I'm too selfish - and then in my defense, while my Grandparents have all died in my life, we never lived close to any of them long enough that I developed more than a theoretical attachment to them, and I've never had anyone die closer than that. But I know the feeling of facing the suddenly impossible, of wanting something, someone, that you simply cannot have, nomatter what - the feeling of finality I guess. That nauseous feeling of complete and utter powerlessness - or more of power to do many things, but none of the things that you wish you COULD do. Growing up in religion, this always angered me - that religion never really seemed to deal wtih this. IT all boiled down to a sort of parallel equation - all the things you feel are insignificant, because if you're good they'll work out for the best, and if you're bad, they'll come back to bite you. I don't know exactly what I'm trying to tell you, I'm sorry. :(