Saturday, December 3, 2011

That Day

Over the summer, my grandma (my dad's side) died from a stroke.  Over the past few days I've just been reliving it over and over again.  I really don't know why it's happening now, but I think I need to do a thought dump.  Trigger warnings probably.  She was the first person I've known whose has died.


The phone rang.  It was 9:30 in the morning and I was in between jobs.  It's so cliche, but I knew it was my dad and I knew it wasn't good news even before I woke up, despite the fact that I was asleep when my phone started playing the Game of Thrones theme at top volume.

Dad: Kaylee. I'm sorry.  I know you're probably asleep.  But.  Grandma had a massive stroke.  You need to grab Carla and come to the hospital.
Me: Okay Dad.
Dad: I'm so sorry.
Me: It's okay Dad.  I'll see you soon.

I throw on clothes as quickly as possible, grabbing a coat despite it being summer.  Hospitals are always cold.

Me: Carla, we need to go. Now.  Grandma's had a stroke and we need to get to the hospital.

I'm not sure my sister said anything in response.  But I grabbed a granola bar for myself while she put on clothes and then handed her one as we headed out the door.  My sister who has never done anything quickly in her life got out the door in under five minutes.  Something was so wrong.

I got in the car and convinced my sister to text Boyfriend for me.  I remember speeding 10+ mph over the speed limit.  If I had been pulled over, the only possible thing I could have said was: "I'm sorry officer.  My grandma is dying and in the hospital and if we don't get there soon, there's a good chance we won't be able to say goodbye."

Carla called Shea and talked to her briefly.  My mom and Shea were both at work, but both were allowed to go early, so my mom was going to pick Shea up and meet us at the hospital.

I knew that too.  That my grandma wouldn't recover.  I knew it from my Dad's broken tone.  I knew it even if I had no reason why I knew it.  I knew that if my Dad called me or Carla when we were in the car, there was a fairly good chance my grandma would already be dead.  The phone rang when we were five minutes from the hospital.  I couldn't hear my dad on the other end of the phone as he talked to Carla.

Carla: Dad says that grandma's on life support.  Grandpa doesn't want to prolong things though so as soon as the whole family's there he'll pull the plug.  Mom's picking up Shea now.
Me: Okay.

My sister was sobbing, but I couldn't speak.  I had to be able to drive.  I couldn't cry yet. I couldn't.  I had to drive.

The hospital had recently been remodeled, so I parked in the parking garage that I knew, before realizing that there was a parking garage closer to the ER.  Carla and I parked hurried towards the ER.  As we passed the toll station I realized I didn't have my wallet, it was in a different pair of pants, and I wouldn't be able to pay on my way out.

We got into the main waiting room and saw my dad.  He ushered us to the main desk where we got our visitor's pass.  I then hugged my cousins and my dad.  The cousin who was older than me by two months, his brother who was Carla's age, and my other cousin who was Shea's age.  Her twin was attending his first week of college classes and my uncle and aunt hadn't been able to reach him yet.

My dad's oldest brother and his wife (who is a nurse) were back with my grandpa.  My dad informed us that they were moving my grandma to the ICU and so we couldn't see her yet.  He said that she was on life support and there wasn't any chance of recovery.  They had seen my grandma's scans and the burst blood vessels had covered an area larger than a half dollar coin.

My sister joined my cousins and I sat next to my dad.  We didn't talk.  I didn't cry.  He didn't cry.  My dad's other older brother was in absolute tears and his wife was (very awkwardly) trying to comfort him.  My cousins and sister just sat in silence, teary eyed.

My aunt and uncle returned and informed us that my grandma had been move to the ICU and we should go to the waiting room there.  The rest of my extended family went up, but my dad, my sister, and I waited for my mom and Shea to arrive.

I remember calling Shea twice because they were taking so long and then, finally, they showed up.  We went up to join the rest of my family and a nurse informed us that three people could go in to see my grandma.  My sisters and I, who hadn't been back yet went.

I memorized the twists and turns the nurse took us through.  I remember the nurse being friendly and supportive and saying she was glad my grandma has such a big family.  I also remember pitying the nurses of the ICU who see grieving families every day.  Seeing people at their worst constantly and just having to deal with it.

My grandpa was quiet.  We all hugged him and then hugged my grandma, who lay quietly in her bed, covered in blankets with a horrible breathing tube in her chest.  I remember the awful sounds of the automated breathing.  I remember looking at the equipment and medicine.  I remember not being able to look at my grandma for long because she just didn't look like herself.

She had always been small, but now she looked tiny.  And broken.  Her skin wasn't cold though.  It was warm to the touch.  I can't remember a single time in my entire life that my grandma had been warm to the touch.  Except that day.

I hugged my grandpa, but I just couldn't stay for long.  I could have stayed.  I could have forced myself.  It wouldn't have been torture, but I just didn't want to.  I knew at the time (or at least hoped fervently) that I wouldn't regret my decision(s) and I still don't.  My sisters stayed and I got my mom so she could say goodbye.

I sat over by my cousins and they talked quietly.  I had nothing to say.  My uncle (the younger of the two) still cried and my aunt was starting to get annoyed.  My older uncle and his wife. talked with the doctors/nurses.  My dad sat over coffee at a table.  Eventually I joined him at the table.  Being near my cousins was making me tear up and I just couldn't be that vulnerable around people I barely knew anymore.

I remember us all cycling through visiting my grandma and being back their to support my grandpa.  I remember the nurses finally giving up on the three person room and letting us have as many people as we wanted in the room.  I remember grabbing tissues, for myself...later, and then giving them away to other people.  I remember sitting with my mom in the lobby, hardly being able to stand being in the room for long. 

I talked with her.  I looked up the wiki articles for aneurysms and strokes to figure out the difference.  I talked via a chat program on my phone (the phone I had gotten only a few days previously) with a good friend.  I texted back and forth with Boyfriend (who was at work).  I texted another friend (the only one who hadn't yet left for college) and asked for his support when I left the hospital later.

My cousin finally got their and we all went back to the room.  My final goodbye to my grandma was brief; everyone else's was not.  My mom and I went back to the lobby; we were just more comfortable there.  My family returned (much later) and the four of us (but not my dad) decided to go home.

There was nothing else we could do.

I got money from my parents to pay for parking and for food.  I took Carla in my car.  She wanted a frozen pizza, but I needed food sooner.  It was now mid afternoon and I had only had that granola bar to eat.  When everyone (minus my dad) got home we all found our own space and Boyfriend came over.  And when he got there, I cried on his shoulder.

I sobbed.  I hiccuped.  All those tears I had yet to shed fell and I couldn't stop them.  My house was stifling. I couldn't be near my family.  We left. I told my mom I'd be back eventually.  I didn't know when.  My friend (who I mention often enough that I really should get permission to use a pseudonym) finally texted me back and we went over to his house (we accidentally went to his mom's house first before realizing that he had meant his dad's).

We got there and I cried on my friend's shoulder.  His entire family was there though, so I wrapped up in a blanket and just sat on the couch.  Boyfriend and he talked and I mainly listened.  Eventually (after a very lovely dinner, which I am still very thankful for) we did go over to his mom's house.  I think we watched Game of Thrones, but I'm not totally sure.

My mom texted me saying that my dad had left the hospital and despite being off life support for many hours, my grandma was still technically alive (I say technically because I'm not sure at that point, there was anything left in her body.  Which is a horrible thing to say.  But it was a horrible day).

We watched more Game of Thrones.  I just couldn't think about anything.  I had to keep my mind busy/distracted/preoccupied.  Eventually Boyfriend had to leave for the night, because he had work in the morning.  I was going to sleep over though.  My house was just an intolerable thought.  About ten minutes after Boyfriend left, my mom called and said that my grandma had passed.  I hugged my friend and cried for the third time that day.  Then we watched more Game of Thrones and later slept.

The next several days I remember sobbing in Boyfriend's arms a lot.  I was rarely home because facing my family was too hard.  I distracted myself nearly constantly.  Eventually things started to get better.  Her memorial service wasn't remarkable in my mind.  I had already said goodbye, but the night before it, which I had spent with my family in a sort of vigil, was really important.


I look back and think I seemed kind of heartless.  But that's apparently just how I grieve.  I feel bad, because I had this lovely post about casting for theatre (and film) all prepared, but this is what decided to come out instead.  It's quite the downer.  If you read it, thanks.

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