I remember when I received the dreaded call. I knew it was coming but I wasn’t ready. Dealing with loss like this is something that I had never experienced.
“Jared, they have stopped treatment on your Grandma; she only has a few days left. You better try to get to Ogden as soon as you can.”
So I rushed to McKay-Dee Hospital wondering just how I was going to communicate to her that this might be goodbye.
When I arrived, her state of health was much worse than I had expected. The initial meeting was very upsetting. I had never witnessed the terrible pain that a leukemia victim suffers through, especially during the final hours. My heart broke when I saw her in such poor condition.
One Last Laugh
It was just two months earlier when my grandma made the trip to Salt Lake City to celebrate my 30th birthday. I was going through a difficult time that year and it meant so much to me that she was able to make it to the dinner.
At the restaurant, she and I proudly shared glasses of wine. We laughed and reminisced about the past. She was the life of the party. Just her presence was enough to make all my emotional pain disappear that night. When I look back at my 30th birthday, that night is what I will always remember.
When I arrived at the hospital she was in and out of consciousness. My aunt leaned towards her and told her that I had come to visit. Her eyes lit up. “Oh Jared,” she said, reaching around for my hand with tears in her eyes. I quickly realized that she knew as well as I the reason for my visit. It was time to say goodbye.
It was a snowy Monday morning. I sat in a chair positioned next to her hospital bed. I held her hand tightly in mine with tears rushing down my face. She soon closed her eyes and laid still while holding my hand. I could tell she was ready to go. Her tender heart had seen enough of this world.
Grandma opened her eyes again and turned her head toward me. She tried her best to speak, but her cough was uncontrollable and she was having a difficult time breathing. She was exhausted. It was clear that the failed chemo treatments had taken a huge toll on her.
“Nothing needs to be said,” I told her. “Don’t speak, just relax and listen to the Christmas music.” But she had too much on her mind. Even with all the pain and agony that she was experiencing, the caregiver inside her was worried about here family.
I told her that she had nothing to worry about. “Everything has been taken care of,” I said. “Go and be at peace. Your friends and family are waiting for you.”
My cousin was also in the room. Together we convinced Grandma that we would be okay. Finally, she said, “I’m ready to go now.”
Soon after that moment, she began asking us for a little help. “Please, will you help me to go?” I remember thinking: if only passing on were as easy as saying “I’m ready to go now”.
Suddenly her sense of humor returned. She looked towards me and asked me if I would run to her house and grab her gun. I laughed and told her I couldn’t do that.
“You would go to heaven and I would go to jail,” I said. “That wouldn’t be fair!”
Then out of nowhere she looked up and yelled “HELLO!” as if she were calling for God. Shortly after she
Shortly after she mumbled, “what’s taking so long?” Confused, I asked her what she meant. “Death”, she replied impatiently. “God is on his way”, I said. “He’s just running a little late, you know… kind of like your daughter Toni.” She laughed for a second, and then quickly drifted off to sleep again.
Me, my aunt, and my cousin had a good couple of hours alone with Grandma that morning before the rest of the family arrived. I will forever be grateful for that alone time with her.
Grandma was visited by friends and family throughout the day. You could tell just how much love just by how packed her hospital room was. While we were all grieving, dealing with loss. She was finally at peace, knowing that her family would be okay. Grandma died later that evening.
Dealing With Loss – The Last Word
Grandma, your glow, and love for life touched everyone around you. While your work here may be done, your love and memory will live on forever. You will always be dearly missed and never forgotten.
The song “When I Get Where I’m Going.” is my dedication to you. This song is a perfect example of your strength, attitude, your vision, and love for life. Dealing with loss, I find comfort (and tears) every time I listen to the lyrics. I know that you are in a better place where you can continue to share your endless joy, love, and that amazing, contagious laugh.