The following was written exactly 6 years ago.
My grandmother lays on the rented hospital bed in the blocked off living room, next to my chair. She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t respond when you ask her if the piano music is loud enough, just calmly stares off into the distance. Other people bustle through the house while I just sit there, wondering what she is thinking.
She’s dying of cancer, and I have never watched someone die before. I’ve known people who have died, but they all happened as something far away, not this close.
My mom asks her if she wants to have pea soup or macaroni for her dinner, and she doesn’t reply, doesn’t move a muscle. We manage to get her attention with some Indonesian deserts I had brought from lunch. My uncle leaves to do some work, and my mother busies herself in the kitchen. I sit, and I wait, for something that I hope doesn’t come, but I slightly wish would hurry up.
They talk about financial matters, logistics, the sober planning of the reality that’s soon to be. She doesn’t seem to mind, she seems to see that it’s better to get these details out of the way while she’s still there and can participate, so her children won’t have as much hassle when she dies. I don’t know if I could bring myself to sign my own bill for cremation.
I said my goodbye to her on Saturday before I left for my flight, leaned over and embraced her, and felt her tears on my shoulder. I rarely cry, but that was the last I will ever see of her. Before I walked out the door, I gave her a silent kiss on her forehead; just below the wool cap she wore to hide her lack of hair.
She is in much pain. She gets a morphine patch every three days that seems to help, along with numerous other medications to ease her suffering. Nothing to stop the cancer.
I don’t feel one emotion at a time. I want her to die, right now, so that she will be free of her days of sitting, waiting for the end. I want her to die so she will be out of her pain. But I want her to live to see all the things I see, all the beauty I have yet to show her. I want her to die because I love her, but I want her to live because I love her more.
I go back to school soon, and I can only wait. Every time I hear the phone ring, I imagine it’s my uncle, and I watch for my mother’s smile to disappear. But no, it’s a telecommunications company with another plan.
While I know it is coming, that doesn’t stop this. I miss her, and she isn’t even gone. I miss the her that she used to be, that vibrant and exciting woman that I love. But all I can do now is wait.
So I wait.