And that's that. My grandmother is going to die - it's not a matter of "how" but "when" and "where". Of course, it's never a matter of "if" - but the manner of our going is in doubt. I spent the afternoon, mostly alone with my grandfather. He was obviously agonizing over the decision. My grandmother is off the ventilator, but they give her IV's, and keep her stable in a variety of ways. She doesn't wake up, though her eyes will open for a moment if I speak to her. And my grandfather knows that she's going to die, but he doesn't know ... quite what to do. So his son, my Uncle is coming from L.A. and his daughter, my Aunt will also be there. And my sisters and I, who are as close to her as anyone since we were raised by my grandparents, me especially, will also gather. And then we'll meet with the surgeon, who will tell us what our "options" are - but those options will involve her dying.
And so I think we are gathering for a death watch. All hope for her eventual help is lost - now we can only hope that she goes without pain, and surrounded by family.
My grandfather and I talked today. Stark talk about dying - about the fact that my grandmother was alert and active and a part of the lives of the people around her until her last days. About how others have faded away - their minds leaving them while their bodies live on - and how much he preferred that her mind stayed sharp, even though her body was eating itself in secret - cancer gnawing at her from the inside, destroying her colon, her intestines, her stomach. And he spoke also, with fear in his voice, of what it would be like when she passed. And he said, "Though I suppose it won't be any different than living like you - you're alone."
I don't know whether he takes comfort in knowing that, or pities me for what he imagines it must be like. But this - this death watch, this gathering of the clan to observe and honor my grandmother's passing - this.... it teaches me why we have family. Because in the darkest hours we're not alone. This is why we gather in families, this is why despite the fights and the heartache, and the struggles and pain - this... this is why we stay together. So that at the end, we can say that we were not alone, and not have to worry "Who will hold my head when I die?"
Wherever we go - a new place in life, or to something beyond - we can say at least that we aren't alone.
Go home and love your family people.
Go love them.