All of my life my Grandmother was the one to care for me. She was my mother and my very own special friend. When I had children at a young age she never turned her back on me and because of her support I was able to continue with my education and become a succesful mother and business woman.
She was 73 years old and in such great health. She had always lived on her own and had been there for all of her family no matter what the cost to herself. There was never a time we were alone as long as we had Nana. My children, her great grand children, loved and respected her so much. They spent the night with her one at a time at least once or twice a month and we really thought we would keep her forever.
Hardly ever was Nana sick so on the morning of November 3, 1999, when she woke up very confused we were alarmed and took her to the Doctor early in the morning. The Doctor ordered a CAT scan and by the end of the day we were in the Emergency Room with a Doctor telling us that she had a large mass in her brain. Cancer.
I only had 2 days left before she would have brain surgery and I was at her side 24 hours during those days telling her that I loved her and that no matter what I knew she would be alright because we would care for her here and God would care for her if she went. She was not afraid to die and spent her lucid time comforting us and making sure we knew that she had no fears, only concern for the rest of us.
It's amazing how your life can change in one day. My Grandmother was the most beautiful, classy Lady I have ever known and she was always immaculately dressed and groomed. Now here she was, four days later with half of her head shaved and no make up, looking every bit of the 73 years she had never looked before. Luckily, she did not have a care in the world as to what she looked like.
She lived 45 days after her surgery but never walked again and never completely woke up. There were times when we would take her for walks and the family would come and bring her big dinners but she would visit for a while and then she was out again. I always wonder if some part of her hadn't already gone on at that point.
The 45 days we had with her, though they were heart-wrenching to watch, gave us a wonderful opportunity to finally give back to her just a small portion of what she had given us all of our lives. I remember my sister-in-law and I rubbing lotion on her skin after she had slipped into a coma and how she moaned a few times to let us know that she was there and that she could feel us. The next day we were planning to bring her home with Hospice to spend her final days here. She never made it. Grandma died in the hospital 4 hours before she was supposed to be brought to my home. That must have been the way she wanted it to be.
I felt the pain start in the top of my head and stop suddenly at my chest. It was pain that I could not bare, yet somehow my heart kept beathing and I was walking and talking. I sat with her body for hours before allowing them to call the funeral home. It was not death that broke my heart, but more the total absence of life. There was nothing of the woman who use to put my hair in pigtails before school or the Grandma that took me to the Father/Daughter dinner with my Girl Scout troop because I didn't have a dad. There was only her body and nothing at all left inside it.
There's not a day that I don't think about calling her to tell her something that my boys did at school or to discuss something that happened on one of our soap operas. In the evenings when we are watching T.V. I want to call her to see if she has eaten dinner or if I should have one of the boys walk to two blocks to her apartment to bring her something. Then, as soon as the thoughts come, I realize that she is no longer here.
I want to say that I am comforted by knowing that she is in Heaven because I know that is how I am supposed to feel but it just doesn't feel that way to me yet. I want her back. I want to tell her that everything good in me came from her and that I could never have raised these boys without her. I want to know what her secret was in loving us all so that I can fill the void in the hearts of my sons with the kind of selfless love she gave them. I need her with me so that I can know that I belong to something bigger than myself in this life. She was the one thing that I felt anchored to.
I still don't fully understand how the world keeps turning without her in it. It just feels like everything is wrong and can't be fixed. My soul aches for her each day and I pray to God that she knows she is not forgotten, that she will never be forgotten and will always be loved and honored. My Beautiful Nana. God had better be good to her.