I have been dragging my feet on this post for days. Its not the happiest post, but it needed to be done. Its unpolished, but I began to feel as though I’d never be happy with it.
Last Friday night, I received a phone call from my mother: family had begun to converge in North Carolina for my grandmother’s last days. We didn’t know exactly how long she had left, but she had easily met the “acute” standard of illness necessary to be admitted to hospice.
I arrived in North Carolina (younger brother in tow) on the first available Amtrak on Sunday. She’d been waiting for me, eyes focusing when she heard my voice at her bedside. I gave her a tentative hug, attempting to be mindful of her frailness. She pulled me back, hugging me tightly and giving me a kiss. Apparently I’d forgotten who I was dealing with, because Barbara Jean had never been frail or weak for a day in her life.
That was her second to last responsive day. Occasionally she would have bursts of energy, and remind us that she, too, was a part of the conversations being had around her (“Y’all talking about politics?” she’d said incredulously to a room of people who had forgotten she was listening).
By Monday, she had entered a sleep so deep, only the Lord could wake her. I marked my birthday quietly with salted caramel and marshmallow brownies that I made for the family, and a trip to Barnes & Nobles.
I’d already received my birthday card from Grandma. Perpetually prepared, she’d made sure I had my card by Halloween. It was postmarked October 28th. My aunts informed me that she had gone to the store that Monday just to get my birthday card, despite strict advice against driving. It was hard for me to believe that someone who had been driving and taking care of herself on Monday, had declined so swiftly in only a week.
My grandmother passed away early Wednesday morning after battling breast, and later colon, cancer for over decade. My mother and I were already awake when my father called us at 4am.
Before I arrived, my mother called to give me an update on my grandmother’s health. She reflected that death could be a moment or a journey. When my great grandmother died several years ago, there was no warning, particularly because our island back in the Bahamas has no hospital. In that instance, death was a moment. No hugs, no hand-holding, no teary confessions or apologies. Most importantly, no time to make peace.
This time was different—I was blessed to be a part of her journey. In the end, I think we were all better prepared for the inevitable as a result. I have few regrets, which I consider the greatest blessing of all.
Thus, the trip to Paris is postponed indefinitely. Had she known, she probably would have wanted me to go anyway– but after all she’s done for me, being there for her last days was the least I could do. Thankfully, both AirBnB and Air Canada refunded the funds we had spent on lodging and airfare. I plan on going on my grand Eurotrip eventually, but this just wasn’t the right time. Paris will always be there, but I learned this past week that family can be gone in a blink.
Thanks to everyone who has already sent well wishes through text, phone calls, and flowers. We love you all for it! ❤