Monday, February 8, 2010

A Different Kind of Loss

After several years of declining health, my grandma passed away on Saturday night. It was expected; she's been in the hospital on and off for years, and when she was checked in five days ago, it became clear that this time might actually be the end. My mom was with her, holding her hand, at the time she passed. It was an utterly peaceful way to go as I can possibly imagine. And we were as prepared as anyone can possibly be.

It's still difficult to reconcile the details. I'm finding I can't really grasp the enormity of it, so instead I'm focusing on the little things. How I won't ever hear her voice again. How her house, the home she's occupied for over 40 years, is now empty. How I'll never again dial her phone number, a number I've had memorized my entire life, and hear her pick up on the other end like clockwork. How she won't get to attend my wedding or meet my children, events that would have meant more to her than I can possibly explain.

I've also been thinking about unconditional love. How many people in your life tell you every time you see them how much they love you? Tell you how beautiful you are? Tell you how proud of you they are? My grandma adored with an unassuming consistency that boggles my mind. She was entirely uninterested in my flaws. Unaware of them, even. She was a simple-minded woman with a kind of childlike innocence. She saw the world mainly in absolutes. And when it came to me, I could do no wrong. I can only hope to someday be the person she thought me to be.

I'm also worried about my mom. My grandma has been an utterly constant presence in her life. In all her 56 years, my mom has never lived further than 10 miles away from her. For the past 15 years she's gone over several times a week to take care of things around the house. Not a day goes by that they didn't talk on the phone. And while their relationship wasn't always the happiest, it was most certainly a huge part of my mother's life. She's handling things pretty well, but given her already-chronic depression, I guess I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I've been trying to keep my eating somewhat in check, but honestly, exercise has fallen by the wayside. It just doesn't feel right to act energetic and enthusiastic at a time like this. I just need to focus on finishing up my responsibilities at work so I can hop on a plane back to Indiana as soon as possible.