For 3 months my grandfather, Papa as we called him, fought for (or clung to) life. During that time, I wasn't around much; I stayed connected through 2nd hand information. But I really just kept waiting. Honestly, I was surprised he lived for so long. My memory of him in that hospital was burned as one where he seemed miserable, not really living. (Yet, in the past couple of days I've been taught/re-thought what it means to be living; the mind and spirit can be very alive while the body, what we measure "living" by, continually withers away.)
Living 5 hours away keeps the reality at bay. I knew he was sick; I asked for updates. But I wasn't present, and in many ways, I didn't want to be. Papa and I weren't close before, why would it matter now? That isn't fully true, that it didn't matter, but it's what ran through my head a lot of days. My family-my caring, dedicated family-was present the whole time. They tirelessly made daily visits to the hospital, and later, the nursing home. Mrs. Libby, my "adopted" grandmother," made soup and brought diet coke and read her book by his bedside.
Still he clung.
During this time, and looking back, I didn't desire to visit or to be close to the situation. This isn't my nature, to turn away from closeness, to choose to be emotionally uninvolved. In fact, it's quite the opposite of my personality. But this was quite different; it brought out something in me I've not seen before. I thought, why be connected to him then, when he's dying? And besides, we'd never had many conversations that didn't end in his telling me he wish I'd done something his way instead of mine, more or less.
So that's the waiting. Not much happened healthwise during this time, except for ups and downs in his condition, amidst the continual "down" (he would never be able to live at home again, never be free from the care of medical personnel). And I guess I waited for him to die. I didn't want him to die, yet I wanted him to be free from his misery.
Next time I'll carefully (as to not offend or disclose anything too personal) tell you what I've learned from watching my dad and aunt, his children, go through the death of their dad. It's quite different from my experience, yet it's taught me much.
Thanks for reading; may you think through your own grief, past or present, in losing those you love, and know God's grace in a very real way.