Monday, December 03, 2007

The last bits of family (minus one cousin) arrived yesterday. My great-aunt Barbara got on a plane for the first time in 22 years, just to be with her sister (my grandma). My older sister waited longer in the Tulsa airport than the plane ride was from Tulsa to Hobby.

My Grandmother has a DNR and a living will. We spoke of her cremation wishes. My Granddaddy said he wanted to have the service and sprinkle her ashes in Trinity. We, as a family, all agreed, and she had clearly stated, that she wouldn't have wanted all those measures. We agreed to disconnect life support this morning, at 9am.

As the hour broke, we gathered in her room. Her pastor was there. My Granddaddy was crying. My Uncle Frank was crying. I was merely trying to find the strength to remain standing. We had been told that if we excited her, we would have to leave.

We all took turns going over to talk to her. At this point, she still had all those fucking wires and tubes in her. I made my way over. I took her hand. I leaned down. She recognized my. She squeezed my hand. She still had the tube down her throat, so she was just squeezing my hand and mouthing "I love you". I said, "I love you so much. I really do." Words felt so tiny. This is the woman who taught me how to swim. My grandma taught me how to accesorize with jewelry. She taught me about never letting my fingernails look a mess. I turned to let someone else come talk to her, and she wouldn't let go of my hand. I leaned back in, and she just kept mouthing "I love you" over and over. I put my head on her shoulder. My resolve gave out. I was about to break down, and I could not do it in the room. I somehow ran down the hall, into the CCU lobby, and fell into a chair. And then, I lost it. I mean lost it.

My stepdad had his hand on the back of my neck. My youngest cousin, came over knelt down and said "C'mon, let's go." I didn't know where were going, or how my legs were going to work, but I stood up, and we went into a hall. We sat down on the floor, holding hands, crying, each of us repeating "This sucks. This fucking sucks." And talking about her. And then, we stood up. We went back into the lobby. One by one, they came out. My granddaddy came out last. He told her that she was now sedated, and resting. He suggested that since we have several diabetics in our family, we ought to go eat. 14 of us piled into three cars.

We went to eat. I broke a cardinal rule. I sat at the table, on the phone, talking with my other cousin about what was happening and what was going to happen next. Not a one of us had the answer. I picked at a plate of strawberry shortcake.

We went back to the hospital. While we were out, my grandma was given a nebulizer treatment. She'd been intubated for almost four days, so it was to ease her breathing after that and ventilator.

We waited for the 1pm visiting hour. My granddaddy and my mom went in first. A few minutes later, my granddaddy came out, and called for the other kids. My mom was joined by my Nanny, my Aunt Deb and my Uncle James. Grandma's four kids. And her husband. And then, one by one, she called us back. She could now speak in a hoarse whisper.

When it was my turn, I took her hand, leaned in and said, "hey lady! There are much better ways to get us to pay attention to you." She smiled, and I kissed her. She said, "you look beautiful." I replied, "I get it from you." She smiled again, and said, "I know." I kissed her head, stroked her cheek, and once again, had to leave the room to regain my composure.

After I came out, and sat down. As each of us came out, we remarked on how she was on life support three hours ago, we'd come to say goodbyes, and she was making jokes. My Uncle Jimmy came out. He sat down, put his head in hands and said she just told him that she knew we'd written off. She knew it was bad, because Barbara had flown. She just doesn't. And then she looked at him and said, "I am not leaving at Christmastime. I have shit to do."

Twenty minutes after that, my granddaddy came out. She had asked them to turn her tv around. She sat up in bed. She rallied! We were pulling the plug, and my grandma still has shit to do.

I have literally been through every emotion. Sorrow. Anger. Joy. I am exhausted. I know my Grandma is on borrowed time. I know that. Her kidneys are still failing. She still has heart failure. But tomorrow, they are moving her into a regular hospital room, out of CCU.

She made us all leave. She said we looked exhausted. She also told my older sister to get her eyebrows waxed, for heaven's sakes!

I am going back to Conroe on Thursday. I will stay with her until Saturday. And then I have to get back to this life I lead.

I do not believe in miracles, but I honestly don't know what else to call her.

I am so grateful that my grandma is a tough, old bird. Goddamn, I love that woman!