Typically when I visit Florida, Grandpa AND Grandma come to pick me up from the airport or hotel I’d been staying at. This week, Grandpa came alone.
Two weeks ago when my grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we knew the end was near but no one could have predicted how close it was. I lost sleep obsessed with finding a way to nurse my grandma back in to good health. I keep thinking that if I keep researching and reading that I will find a loophole in the system and I would be able to present a miracle to my Grandma. I can’t imagine how a doctor must feel dealing with multiple patients, searching for a magical cure day in and day out….. It’s exhausting, emotional, & daunting.
On Saturday morning, I received a text from Grandpa that read: “grandma is getting very weak” and I immediately booked a flight. My friends had been telling me to get down to FL as soon as possible, although I wasn’t sure why they were saying that. Grandma was scheduled to receive chemotherapy for 7 weeks and I knew I had at least that amount of time to visit with her and cook her some good meals.
I flew in on Monday night and within 12 hours of my arrival, grandma passed away. Together, Grandpa & I watched as Grandma rapidly, but peacefully progressed through her final moments. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to witness my Grandpa share the final moments of his wife’s years.
On my flight down to Florida, I started reading a book called Final Gifts which prepared me for what my family experienced this week. The book is written by a hospice nurse and it’s intention is to help you understand what is happening during the process of dying. I contribute the inner peace and comfort that I have within to the awareness that the book offered me.
I am forever grateful for the people who encouraged me to get to Florida sooner than later. Grandpa continuously thanks me for being there with him. Had I not been there to witness the actual moments, I’m not sure I would have ever fully come to peace with my Grandma dying at an early age.
I am exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious. But no matter how much pain & loss I have experienced this week, it is nothing in comparison to the loss that my Grandfather feels after losing his wife of 56 years. My heart is still broken. I am forever saddened for my Grandfather who now faces the world alone after spending 56 years with the love of his life. I watched my other Grandfather ‘do life’ for 10 years after my Grandmother, his wife of 50+ years died in a fatal car crash….
If a loved one of yours is ever diagnosed with a terminal illness, I encourage you to do two things:
- Read Final Gifts and share it with your loved ones
- Do not wait to spend time with that person. Don’t let anything hold you back – not money, not work, not anything.