Saturday, March 13, 2010

Already there

I’m thinking about my grandmother in the hospital, and whether the doctors there are sad that she’s leaving. I’m sad that she’s leaving. I’m not sad that she’s leaving the hospital. I know she doesn’t want to be in any more pain. I don’t want her to be in any more pain. I don’t want to be in any more pain either, but it’s different: I’m not dying. I’m not dying, and I don’t want to die, and I don’t want my grandmother to die either, except that maybe she’s ready, so then it’s okay, it’s okay that she’s dying and still I wish for more.

My mother says: I have not been able to cry; I admire that you’re able to -- I’m not able to mourn. Anytime I feel it coming up I get really anxious and then it doesn’t happen. Believe it or not, this is almost harder than it was with Dad and it makes no sense because I had all the responsibilities with Dad and it was way more emotional and it went on for much longer and I was losing a husband and here I am losing someone who’s lived a very full life and it’s still very difficult.

I ask my mother for the number at the hospice, she was supposed to call with it earlier, but she says: I didn’t call it the number because she didn’t make it to the hospice. What do you mean, I say? My mother says: they were supposed to take her there last night but then someone who wasn’t a nurse did the evaluation, and then it couldn’t be approved, and then they were worried that if they put her in the ambulance she would die there and she would be in a lot of pain, way more pain, so now she’s in hospice but she’s still in the hospital. I say did she agree to that? My mother says yes, she didn’t want to be there, but she agreed. But she can’t really talk, I’d say -- right? You’re right, my mother says, but she can communicate: I watch her body language, I can ask her a question and she can raise a finger.

I’m thinking about what my mother learned from my father’s death. I asked her if they took Rose off of the fluids, like she wanted to, and my mother says yes, now she’s on morphine and she’s doing much better. Yesterday Jarod and I were leaving and I got a call and so we turned around and went right back to the hospital and she was awful, I’ve never seen her like that, she was in so much pain, but now she’s doing better. Ask my mother for the number at the hospital, my mother says you want to call her now, before she dies? And I say well it wouldn’t make much sense to call her after, right? And my mother starts this high-pitched laugh that sounds like her sister, or maybe it sounds like her because I haven’t seen my aunt in years, when would I have heard her laugh? And mother says let me call the hospital, it will take a while because I don’t know her extension yet but I’ll call you back. I say you mean a few minutes, right? And my mother says oh yes!

When I call my grandmother, I tell her I want her to know that I love her, and then I start crying but I’m trying to stop myself because my mother said my grandmother doesn’t like it when people cry, but why am I listening to what my mother said? I’m worried that my grandmother won’t be able to understand me if I cry too much, I mean I guess I could slow down and take my time, but there’s an aide holding the phone at my grandmother’s ear so I’m worried I might be taking too long and so I say: I love you so much and I want you to know how important you are to me, how important you were to me as a kid, you made me believe I could be an artist and even if later you didn’t understand my art I’m glad you’re not going to be in too much more pain and I want you to know how important you are to me, maybe you were even the most important person in the family in a way because you helped me believe in myself and I’m going to miss you, I’m going to miss you so much and I love you and I wish you weren’t going to die but I know that maybe it’s time and I want you to know that I love you.

I stop. I think that’s all I needed to say, and the aide says: did I take the phone away too quickly? And I say no, I’m done, is she awake? The aide says something that sounds kind of like no, but not quite. I say I know she probably can’t respond, but do you think she could hear me? The aide says: yes, the hearing is the last thing to go. And: if you need to call again, you can call any time. And when I get off the phone, I don’t know if I said what I needed to say or whether my grandmother could hear me anyway, and then I call my mother back and she says I’m glad you could have some closure, that was a good idea, and I wish she didn’t tell me that my grandmother doesn’t like it when people get emotional. Maybe then I wouldn’t have thought about that, and then maybe it would have felt like closure.

How long is she supposed to live, I say, and my mother says they haven’t said exactly -- it could be in hours, or days, or a week, but definitely not a month. I say maybe I’ll call her again tomorrow. And then I’m crying again; I kind of wish they took her to the hospice anyway, because she didn’t want to die in the hospital, but then I don’t want her to be in more pain and I feel like a little kid when I ask my mother if she could take some flowers to Rose for me, and then I’m crying more and my mother says that’s a great idea, no one else thought of that, and I say maybe some irises, Rose liked irises, and my mother says how many irises? I say a dozen, and some lilies, because then if she can’t see them then at least she’ll smell the fragrance, she always liked lilies, maybe peach or pink lilies, and my mother says how many lilies? Eight, I say, and then whatever else they think would look good to fill up the bouquet, and my mother says maybe I can get them to take the flowers over tonight, I have the numbers for a few florists.

My mother leaves to call the florist and I think about how present I am in all this grief, way more grief than I thought there would be and I would like to spend a few minutes in the room with my grandmother, but I don’t think I need to, especially since she might die in the next few days and so I probably wouldn’t get there in time anyway. Maybe I’m already there.


davka said...

so much love to you. keep crying it is so good for you.


my heart is broken reading these posts. *sigh* life is so... i don't even know what, profoundly beautiful and totally obliterating all at once.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Davka, I know -- more crying is definitely what I want today...

And yes, beautiful and totally obliterating all at once, so true -- thanks so much for your understanding!

Love --