Last night I had a fitful sleep. I was dreaming of my grandmother all night. When I woke up I knew something was not right. My mother phoned and confirmed that my grandmother was not doing well. My husband came home to care for our three children and I went to be with my mother. Not knowing how she or my grandmother would be when I got there.
When I arrived my mom was in tears and my Nan was lying in her bed with an oxygen mask on and her hands were shaking. I hugged my mom and told her that I loved her and that I was so sorry. My attention then quickly went to my grandmother. I pulled up an extra chair and held her hand in mine. The shaking seemed to lessen. I told her how much I loved her and that I was here for her. I told her that she was not alone and that we were here to help her as she had helped us so many times before.
My aunt came in shortly and had a cry with my mom and then sat next to me. She then spoke to my grandmother telling her that she was here and that she was not alone. My aunt is my dad's sister and was a tremendous support for us, and always is. She and I sat next to each other and held my grandmother's hands and helped her through. She never once was left un-touched. As I gave her water by mouth with a syringe my aunt stepped in and held her hand until I was able to resume my post. My aunt was with my mother, when my mother was too overwhelmed to be with hers. An amazing support system we all make for each other when we need too.
At one point it seemed as if my grandmother was starting to cry so I called my mom and my aunt over. My mom told her how much she loved her and thanked her for always being there for her. She told her that she could let go and that she didn't need to hold on anymore. Then she stepped away and cried with my aunt supporting her. I stayed steadfast and held my grandmothers hand, and wiped her tears. I told her how much I loved her. I thanked her for being such a wonderful example of a mother to me, I told her how lucky I was in my life to have two mothers as she always was a mother to me. I told her how happy I was that she was able to see me as a mother and that my three children were able to love her too. I told her not to worry about my mom, that I would take care of her and make sure she would be OK. I told her that she was not alone and that she didn't need to be afraid, we were with her.
My mother and aunt stepped away and my mother cried. I continued to hold my grandmothers hand and stroked her hair. As her breathing slowed and I thought it had stopped I called my mother back. "I think she's gone..." We called in the nurse to confirm what we already knew. I stayed by her side still holding her hand. I think I was afraid to let go, afraid that she would be alone, even though she was already gone.
I am grateful that I was able to be with my grandmother in her final hours. Helping to keep her comfortable, holding her hand as I did her husbands when she passed. How lucky am I to have had two grandparents that I loved so much and who loved me so much and that I could return that love and be there with them for the end. It is truly my wish to have someone who loves me, next to me when it is my turn
I don't know what the next few days hold for me and my family. I am sure that there will be lots of tears and even some laughter. I do know that as we were there for my grandmother in life and in death, we will continue to be there for each other. Maybe even holding hands.
I love you Nan, wherever you are...
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.