I can’t believe she’s gone. I can’t. The entire night is like a nightmare in my mind, the one I’ve always had where my grandma is dying or dead but this time it’s real. I did everything right but nothing feels ok. It’s supposed to be an “ok sad” when an old person dies comfortably and surrounded by loved ones.

But nothing about it felt ok. I told her all the right things, but I could sense she wasn’t ready. Her body was ready but she wasn’t. I just knew she wasn’t. She didn’t want to go, which is so different from how my grandpa went.

I spent the night listening to her beg me not to leave, constantly ask if I was still there, tell me she loves me, and then, silence punctuated by hour after hour of agonal breathing, death rattle, checking her pulse, twisting and turning, heart burning up in my chest and stomach heaving. I couldn’t leave her at first and then I had to. I got so sick. My head was imploding, my stomach was dancing up near my throat. I don’t want to see my grandma dead, but I don’t want to leave her either.

Now I have a child who is kicking, and throwing, and also trying very hard to not upset me even though we are all so upset. Somehow I have to be a mother. Somehow I have to clean up the cat poop I just found on the floor. I have to remember to feed my daughter, and make sure she doesn’t run off outside, and cut her too-long fingernails, and water the flowers outside. How the fuck am I supposed to do this? It’s so hard to even take a breath.

One minute at a time I suppose.

Did I ever mention that I grew up, and by that I mean up into my 30s, lying in bed sometimes crying because my grandma was going to die? Even in that abstract way, it was shaking me up. Even long before it showed any signs of happening. I lived in terror of the day I’d have to be strong without her, even as I was being strong for her. I’ve never lived in a world without my grandma holding me up. I’ve never been very confident I could survive it. I’ve never truly wanted to.

One of my “parents” is gone. My mom better fucking stay alive for a bit. I’ve never needed her more. I’ve never needed everyone else to be “ok” more than I do right now, because I’m fucking falling apart. I’m not going to be “ok” for some time. I thought losing a baby was the hardest thing in the world but it’s a different hardest thing than losing someone who formed your identity, who gave you your self. I guess there are many “hardest things”, not just one.

Now I’ll never have to have those dreams about her dying again. They’ve been replaced by memories. I’m sorry I can’t remember it as a peaceful, natural part of life. It was just too, too terrible to be that. I made it look like that on the outside, but it really wasn’t. I’m dazed, sick, confused, panicky. I’m supposed to be the one who can deal with everything, but right now I really mean it when I say I can’t.

I need all the help I’m not going to get right now. Because this time I really can’t.

Author: Mother of All Things

Mother by fostering, adoption, and marriage... wife to my best friend... Bay area critical care nurse... travel in my blood, reading in my bones, clean food on my mind!

8 thoughts on “can’t”

  1. Sending you a hug from Maryland. I lost my dad earlier this year, and I can so identify with the challenge of still needing to parent a young child on my own when what I wanted to do was have some time to sort through some big feelings and to make the pragmatic decisions that needing to be handled. Such a tough juggling act as a single momma. Take it one step at a time.

  2. I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandma. I know it doesn’t take away your pain, but I and a couple of friends have also just been shocked at how very much it hurt, how deeply it cut, to lose our grandma’s – and ours weren’t quite as integrally linked with our lives as yours was, is, and will continue to be, even now. You’re not alone in how much this sucks. ❤

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