Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Grandma Died Yesterday

At approximately 4:40 AM in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin my mom's mom died. How do I follow that up?

My grandma had a stroke about 16 months ago and TIMs (micro strokes) since then. She had all sorts of health problems and last week it all got worse due to pneumonia and a bowel obstruction. She had formerly declared (years ago) that she had had so many surgeries that she didn't want to have any more. So when the results of her tests came back Thursday afternoon that it was surgery or hospice, the family chose hospice. It means pain medication but not more medicine. The doctors said it would be one to four days until she died. What do you think when the timeline is one to four days?

After work and stopping by cross country practice I decided to do what I do well, go for a run. Getting out there and physically exerting myself makes thing more clear and releases my emotions. At one point going up a hill I stopped to cry. I made the decision that I would go see her Friday instead of go to work. What good would I do for her as she was partially deliearous? None, her fate was sealed. However, I don't abandon people. It is not a precedent I desire to start. Perhaps it is a trait I learned mountain climbing, or the result of having a small family. The point is I did not want to start of trend of abandoning someone.

So I woke up and ran Friday morning then headed the 140 minute drive north to Wisconsin. When I got there my mom greeted me. We knew this day was coming, it was still strange that it was actually happening. I hugged my grandma and told her I loved her and then my mom and I talked, in the general direction of my grandma who managed to recognize me and she seemed happy I was there. After a scant half hour I had to leave to catch a plane back in Dubuque. Five hours of driving for a 30 minute one sided visit may seem ridiculous, but I have done more for less.

The next day I went for a 15 mile run on my old stomping grounds. After I finished I heard the news through a text message. She died a mere 18 hours and 20 minutes after I last saw her. I felt relief. Her suffering was over. She was no longer in pain. It is strange because no one alive or that I know knew her when she was my age and I have been thinking about that a lot recently. I feel like I should read her biography to know about her what I do not know, but she does not have a biography. What knowledge and experience died with her yesterday?

I am comforted by my faith. Death is not the end. Our understanding of life and death is so temporary it is like our attention spans. After all, it is impossible for anything to go faster than the speed of light, but CERN might have managed to send a particle faster than light speed several weeks ago. Impossible is nothing.

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