she who keeps this diary

11 September 2003 - 7:50 PM

Letting Go

I probably shouldn't be trying to write just now. I am as sick as the proverbial dog, and feeling vaguely resentful that I have to be at work (it's back to school night, and no, illness is not an excuse for going home), and besides, there's the whole grandfather situation hanging over me. Writing while you're feverish is almost certainly a poor idea, and writing while you're grieving and upset is probably not clever either. But I have to do something -- it will be an hour from now before the parents actually start circulating through the classrooms, but I am not up to going down and mingling in the cafeteria as though this were some kind of cocktail party, and I don't even feel well enough to shop for books online. How sick must I be when I don't want to shop for books?

Hospice evaluated Grandpapa on Tuesday, and their guess is that he will last perhaps a week. He's now fully hemiplegic, cannot speak, cannot swallow. I have met two members of the hospice team assigned to Grandpapa and am greatly impressed with them. They're both sensitive and straightforward, and they inspire trust. I'm especially pleased because they are offering support to the family as well as Grandpapa, and Maman especially needs someone to be a rock for her. Sis and I are trying, but we just can't be there full time, and the Avuncular One is behaving like a pedigreed jackass, so he's no help.

Rosine commented to me that in a way, my pain seemed to be passing quickly, and yes, in a way it is. I thought about her remark a while yesterday, and I think the reasons are twofold. Firstly, I have gone through this before. My paternal grandparents are both gone, as are several beloved great-aunts and great-uncles. Seven years ago, I lost my best friend, and six years ago, I lost my father. It's not like it gets easier to lose people after you've had some experience, but I know what to expect, and I've learned a lot about how to cope with loss. That makes a difference.

Secondly, I am not angry about Grandpapa. Anger is probably the most pointless and destructive phase of the grieving process, as well as the most physically and emotionally draining, but in my experience and observation, it's also the hardest part to get past. When Kate died, I was angry. She was my college roommate, my best friend, my heart's sister, and she was perhaps the only person who ever actually understood me. She died of a heart condition no one knew she had when she was 25. She shouldn't have gone undiagnosed, or died so young, and I was angry too that she died when I was thousands of miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic, and I didn't get to say goodbye. It took me a long time to recover from losing her.

There were reasons to be angry when Daddy died, too, though they were muted by the fact that he had been so very ill for so very long. Shortly after he died, I remember seeing something on the TV news about some utterly vile creature who was still living at an advanced age and enjoying his grandchildren, and being briefly furious that such a waste of human flesh was still taking up space and oxygen, while my daddy, who was patient and gentle and giving and good, had died at the age of 56, a month before his birthday and two months before my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. I was angry too that my children, if/when I have them, would not have the wonderful grandpa that I know Daddy would have been.

Then it occurred to me that my reasons for anger could be turned around into reasons for gratitude. I lost my daddy before I was ready to, before I should have had to, but on the other hand, for the time I had him, I had a great dad. Better by far to have had a great daddy for a little while than some raging bastard who hung around for 80 years, making my life miserable.

There aren't any reasons to be angry about Grandpapa, though. It's hard to see him as he is, but he has had a long, fine life, and he is making his exit now with as much grace and dignity as we can all muster for him. I will miss him terribly. But I have no regrets about my relationship with him. I know he knows I love him, and that I know it's time for him to go. That makes it easier to say goodbye.

verso - recto

The WeatherPixie

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