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For Elsa

"Life is too short, Mija", a raspy breath interrupts the flow of her speech, "do not look so far to the future, focus on the now."

"I will, Grandmama, I have to go now, but I'll see you soon. Love you!"

I don't want to hear these words right now. Seeing my grandmother in this nursing home bed is too much, too painful. I kiss her forehead, all too aware of the contusion on her brow, and the pain in her arm from a recent surgery. The guilt hits me immediately when I leave. I could spare a few more minutes, no one would mind if I was a few minutes late, but I don't go back.

A few days later I get a call from my mom, who has my daughter overnight. My grandmother has been in the ER 3 times in the last 24 hours. My mom is going in to advocate for her admittance rather than this back and forth from ER to Rehab Facility.  I ask if I should come, but I am assured that its ok. Grandmama will be going home on Tuesday, nothing to worry about.

24 hours can change so much.

My husband is driving us home when my mom calls again. "Grandmama is going home tomorrow, it will be harder for you to visit when she is an hour away again, could you stop by the hospital to wish her well?" I can tell that something is wrong.

Logan speeds all the way there.

The family has gathered in the fifteen minutes it took me to get to the hospital. I open the door with my customary "Hey pretty lady-" and thats as far as I get before the tears come.  My grandmother stares vacantly at the door, face slack and unmoving. Her breathing is shallow and punctuated with little sighs. I swallow my shock and go to hug her, to hold her hand, to tell her I love her.

My daughter walks into the room behinds me, and for a moment, my grandmother is back, a smile completely changing her face. But still no words. My mom whispers to me that she will be going home with a hospice nurse tomorrow. I nod my understanding, and turn away with a lump in my throat.

This isn't a get well visit, this is a goodbye visit.

That night, I toss and turn. I can't shake the grief, and the feeling that something else is coming. I finally sleep, mildly comforted by the knowledge that tomorrow my grandmother will go home as she has asked to do so many times.

I'm beginning to dread phone calls.

My cell begins to buzz insistently at work. My mother again. Grandmama is not going home. The doctors say she will not survive the trip, I start to cry while she speaks. I can hear my step-father in the background, telling his mother that it is ok to go, that she doesn't have to hang on. I tell my mother I am on my way. Thank goddess for my wonderful, understanding boss.

I make the hour and a half drive in fourty-five minutes.

I hold my grandmother's hand, listening to her struggle for breath. It is difficult to listen to the gasping. Each exhale is punctuated by a gurgling rattle. My mother tells me that the last time Grandmama had any response to anyone, was her smile for my daughter.

My tears drip on to the paper thin hands in mine, and think of all the things my grandmother has done in her life.

Rasing her sister's children
Becoming a Nurse
Coming to America
Losing her husband
Raising two children alone
Volunteering at the place I now work
And so much more...

Her breathing slows, and she slips away.

"Life is too short, Mija, focus on the now." I can hear her words echoing in the beat of my heart, and in every moment that I hold her hand.

This entry dedicated to my grandmother Elsa. I love you always


( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 22nd, 2016 10:19 pm (UTC)

Beautiful. <3

Nov. 25th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Nov. 23rd, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
This broke my heart and brought me to my own experience losing someone very dear... lovely, very well done.
Nov. 23rd, 2016 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

This was cathartic to write as it hasn't even been a month since her passing.
Nov. 23rd, 2016 07:50 am (UTC)
LJ Idol signups still open! / LJI fav reads list, week 1: I need the struggle to feel alive
Nov. 24th, 2016 01:45 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing.
Nov. 25th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Nov. 24th, 2016 02:46 pm (UTC)
Aww..<3 *Hugs* It moved me and I am at loss of words right now.
Nov. 25th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. That means a lot.
Nov. 25th, 2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
The love between you is palpable... I'm happy for you that you got those final, special moment together, to truly to say goodbye, to be in a position to allow it, to take joy and pride in the light on her face for your daughter... these will be treasures that will stay with you always, and bless you for sharing them with us. Touching. Truly.
Nov. 26th, 2016 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much
Nov. 26th, 2016 03:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this, it had to be hard to share but I hope it is in someway cathartic and helps you with your grief and loss.
Nov. 26th, 2016 04:51 pm (UTC)
It was, thank you. I almost took a bye because I am still feeling her loss so strongly.
Nov. 26th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
It is heartbreaking to lose a beloved family member. I remember well my final visit with my grandmother, the only grandparent still alive by the time I was born. Its shocking how, 30 years later, I still remember the smells in the room, the papery feeling of her skin.

My husband lost his grandfather this year. It IS shocking how much can change in 24 hours. One day he was going to be fine, the next, he was going home to hospice and three days later, gone.

This was moving. Thank you for sharing your grandmother with us.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, my condolences to your husband.
Nov. 26th, 2016 09:36 pm (UTC)
So sorry for your loss! This is breathtakingly real but lovely! AW
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!
Nov. 27th, 2016 09:58 pm (UTC)
You can feel the love for your grandmama in this entry. I'm sorry for your loss.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, she was an amazing lady
Nov. 27th, 2016 11:45 pm (UTC)
Well, that made me cry. Well done.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I am glad it touched you.
Nov. 28th, 2016 03:58 am (UTC)
So,so beautifully written. This made me tear up. Your grandmother sounds so loving. The image of loved ones surrounding one in their time of death is always so sad, yet so, so beautiful. Since we all have to go, that's always seemed the most loving way for it to happen. :,) Thanks for sharing this.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC)
This is so beautiful.
Nov. 28th, 2016 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Nov. 28th, 2016 07:00 pm (UTC)
I like this a lot. Short but powerful.
Nov. 28th, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
This was achingly wonderful. I assume it is based on personal experience, so my condolences on the loss of your grandmother.
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. My gran passed at the beginning of this month.
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:36 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. ♥
Nov. 29th, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
Am sorry about your Grandmother. Your memories will keep her alive in spirit. Very well written. Hugs and peace~~~D
Nov. 29th, 2016 01:58 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. I know that feeling of dreading the phone ringing. I'm very sorry for your loss!
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Nov. 29th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I am sorry for your loss :*( Your grandmother sounds like she was a very loving and accomplished (she really had done a lot!) person.
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
She was incredible.

My husband told me a really funny story about the first time they met. I had gone through a really nasty divorce, and Logan had to really fight for my family to be accepting of him.

He was expecting my brothers to do the "hurt her and you'll answer to us" thing, but it was my grandmother saying goodbye to him as he was leaving that put the fear of god in him. All she did was pat his cheek, look in his eyes and say, "don't hurt her." He swears he thought he was going to die by some El Salvadorian mobster.

I died laughing.
Nov. 29th, 2016 05:02 pm (UTC)
So lovely and well written. I'm sorry for your loss.
Nov. 29th, 2016 07:31 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank goodness your instincts helped you to be there in those final moments when it counted, and that your dedication gave you all the time with her beforehand.
Nov. 29th, 2016 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much :)
Nov. 29th, 2016 11:49 pm (UTC)
I was hoping this was a piece of fiction. My condolences to your family and you, and hold fast to all your moments with Elsa.
Nov. 30th, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I wish it was fiction too.
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )


Light in the Darkness
My heart was broken open over and over and over again... and it just kept getting bigger.

It's time to either grow up, or disintegrate.

'What makes the desert beautiful,' said the little prince, 'is that it hides a well somewhere.'

To write love on her arms

You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed.

I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.

The books that help you most are those which make you think that most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.

To whatever end.

I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.

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