This is part two of The Greatest Gift. I hope that you enjoyed reading the first installment and if you have not read part one, please scroll down to the post below this one.
The next day, I continued to listen to the song “It Is Well with My Soul” over and over again. Listening to it brought me peace. Jeff had to work that day, but he was able to come home around 10:30. He drove me to my grandma’s house, and I immediately went to her bedroom. She was lying in the hospital bed sleeping comfortably. I sat with my grandma for a while that morning. Her hospital bed was next to her real bed, and I sat on her bed and watched her sleep. She would occasionally wake up and when she did, we would all rush to her bedside to speak to her. I would say, “Hi” and she would say, “Hi.” I would then ask her how she was and she would reply, “I don’t know.” She was also interested in knowing where we were going. If I stood up, she would say, “Where are you going?” I would say, “I am not going anywhere. Are you going somewhere?” She would reply, “To lala land.” I would laugh and then ask her how it was there and she would say, “Not too bad.” Around noon the hospice nurse got there. She had been coming almost daily since March to monitor my grandma and adjust her medication as needed.
My grandma also had in-home care since the beginning of April. All of these women were really good and seemed to be drawn to my grandma. Three of them were very special to my grandma, and she had shared her story with them and they genuinely seemed to care about her. These three women were the hospice nurse, Amanda, a nurse named Bernie, and another nurse named Shirley. There is no doubt in my mind that these three women were sent to my grandma directly from God. He knew that my grandma needed them and that they needed her. Even in my grandma’s final days, she was making a difference in these women’s lives, and I know that her influence will be felt for the rest of their lives. My grandma always had that effect on people. She drew them in and took hold of their spirits, and they were never the same again.
After the hospice nurse, Amanda, examined my grandma she sat down and told all of us that the end was very near. She said that my grandma only had a few more days to live. She felt that my grandma would be gone by Sunday or Monday. I remember watching Amanda as she delivered this news to all of us and feeling an intense connection with her and realizing what a gift she had been to my grandma and now to us. She explained a lot of the technical things to expect and told us if we needed anything to let her know. As I was sitting there letting this latest news sink in, I was reminded of how I was with my grandma in the hospital on March 20th when they told her she had cancer. I remembered her smiling and saying, “Everything is going to be okay.” I remembered her being concerned about everyone else instead of herself. Suddenly I was overcome by this intense feeling of gratitude. I was grateful because I had been there when the diagnosis of the cancer was made and now I was there when the news of her nearing death was revealed. It seems strange to be thankful for that, but in that moment, I knew what a gift that was. It was a gift given to me directly from God and an experience that I will never forget. However, God was not finished bestowing gifts to me.
For the rest of that day, I sat on the bed next to my grandma’s hospital bed. I sat there for hours only occasionally leaving the room when other family members came to see her. I knew they needed privacy and that they needed time to say their good-byes. By this point, the medicine had made it almost impossible for my grandma to communicate with any of us, but I continued to stay. I knew I belonged there, and there was nowhere else I would rather be. As I sat on that bed hour after hour, I continued to do the same thing. I prayed. My prayer was one of gratefulness. I just kept praying and saying to God, “Thank you for giving me such a wonderful grandma.” I knew that was the only prayer that I could pray. I knew that even in the midst of the storm I should be thankful. This was a lesson that my grandma had always taught me, and now it was time to apply it to my life. Throughout the day, when I could not sit anymore, I would stand and hold my grandma’s hand while she slept. When I would hold her hand, the strangest thing would happen. I would feel this power surge through my arm. At times it was so intense that I would have to let go of her hand for a minute. When I would take her hand again, the same sensation would return. I knew in that moment that something important was happening, but I was not sure what.
Around 10:00 that night, I asked Jeff to take me home. The nurse, Shirley, would be staying with my grandma that night and Jeff and I both felt like I should get some rest. I did not want to leave, but I knew that with what was coming I needed to get as much rest as possible. As I was leaving for the night, I leaned down and kissed my grandma and said, “I’ll see you later” and went home.
The next morning, Saturday, May 21, 2016, Jeff and I woke up very early. As we were lying in bed that morning, Jeff asked me what time it was. I told him that it was 5:45. He later told me that he had been asleep and he saw a very colorful wheel, the kind you would see in a kaleidoscope, and suddenly the image exploded and all the colors sprayed into the air. We got up and started getting ready. I felt the old familiar urgency to get to my grandma, but it was very intense. When we arrived at my grandma’s house, the urgency to get to her overcame me, and I jumped out of the car and began running to her house. As I was running, I thought to myself, “Why are you running?” I really do not know the answer to that question, but I was running. When I got inside and went to my grandma’s room, my mom was there and grandma was asleep. My mom said she had been sleeping since she arrived. Throughout the day, we all sat with my grandma. My aunt, my dad, my brother, Andrew, and my sister-in-law, Amy, were there with us. As the day wore on my grandma was increasingly in pain. She didn’t wake up, but we could always tell when the pain medication was wearing off. It was getting to the point that as soon as the pain medication would work it would wear off. The nurses continued to increase the medicine, and that would work for a little while and then the process would start over again. This continued all day.
My grandma did not really talk to any of us that day, but she would talk especially when she was in need of more medication. It was difficult to see my grandma this way. She had always been so strong and never complained about anything, but now she was completely helpless and the pain was so intense. Honestly, I just wanted it to be over for her. I wanted her to be free of the pain and to be at peace. I continually prayed that day and in addition to my prayer of thankfulness for having such a wonderful grandma, I started telling God that I wanted Him to come and get her. It is not that I wanted my grandma to die, but I knew that where she was going would be a wonderful place, and she would be completely at peace and happy, so I continued to ask God to come and get her. Occasionally throughout the day people would ask me if I were going to stay. I continually said that I was not sure and that I would have to wait and see.
That night I asked Jeff to take me for a drive to get out of the house for a little while. He drove to an empty parking lot and we sat there without saying a word. Suddenly I looked at Jeff and said, “I’m not leaving.” I am not sure how long grandma is going to be here, but I am not leaving her. I am staying until she goes.” I then said to Jeff, “My grandma always said that she would never turn her back on me so I have to do the same for her.” I then added that my grandma always said, “You are my buddy.” I looked at Jeff and said, “Buddies stick together through thick and thin.” Jeff told me that he understood and that he completely supported me. I told him that he needed to go home to be with the dogs and that I would be fine. When we got back to my grandma’s house, I told everyone that I was staying. No one tried to talk me out of it. I think they all understood that this was something that I needed to do.
This ends part two of The Greatest Gift. I hope you will come back tomorrow to read part three. When I think about all the gifts that my grandma gave to me during her life, I feel so much peace and PEACE MATTERS!
In loving tribute:
The battle has been won!