The whole family gathered - what at first we thought was a meeting to determine what to do, i.e. - hospice care, hospital stay, etc - was really to tell us all that there was no chance, and that she was deteriorating. It happened even faster than the doctors thought, who scheduled our meeting with them for Friday morning... but we had to rush over this morning.
"She will need to go back onto the respirator soon. I don't think we should do that, I think we should just make her comfortable. But you should know that making her comfortable will probably kill her." That's what the doctor said. We all agreed -- there was no chance she'd recover, or even regain consciousness. Better to go quietly and without pain.
And so we waited, as the morphine dripped into her veins. Finally the family left to get dinner, we were all starving, and my sister and I stayed behind to keep the watch. A few minutes passed, and I said to Alison, "I'm so amazed that she's hung on for so long." No sooner were the words spoken than her breathing stopped.
We watched. At first she would gasp a little from time to time. Then not at all - and the pulse in her throat, once so clearly visible, became faint, and erratic. And within a few minutes, she was gone. Alison held her hand. I thought of my grandfather's words - "Who shall hold my head, when I lay dying?" and so I held her head and stroked her hair.
Alison went to get a nurse, once she'd gone. I had a few moments to say final private words, and so I did. What I said was between my grandmother and I - who I loved even more than I had known... but finally, my very last words to her - "Watch over us."
Because nothing made my grandmother more happy than being useful, and needed.
May that brave, stubborn, generous, and loving woman find peace. May she be reunited with her brothers, long dead on battlefields in foreign lands - may she see again her father and mother and sister and daughter. But in between the chatting, and I know there will be a lot of that - may she watch over us.
She is gone.