It has taken me a few days to work up the courage to write this post. There are no doubt countless blog entries on the vast web of internets using the same title and covering the same subject. To write or no to write, this was my quandary.
As I write this my 83-year-old grandmother, Nana Shirl, lies unconscious in a hospital bed in Modbury. She has been like this for near on a week now. Looking at the image above, taken a couple of years ago at my cousin’s wedding I am haunted by the image of what she is now. A frail, lifeless figure who cannot communicate with the world and who I am not even sure is still within the confines of her human body.
My nana was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a little over 12 months ago. It has been one of the most confronting and challenging times in our family’s life. Upon reflection I suspect I have been in denial about a lot of it for the better part of 12 months. I saw her gradually degrade but I refused to accept that it was happening. In many ways I put her illness in the ‘process later’ box hoping that at some point in the future all of this would become easier to digest.
When I received the call on Friday morning to say that Nana had taken a turn for the worst and was not expected to live, that nicely bound parcel of denial came crashing to the ground. Suddenly I was faced with the reality of the situation, my Nana, the woman who taught me to listen to my heart, to stick up for myself and fight for what I believed in, who showed me that it is possible to love again even when your heart has been shattered into a million pieces, was not long for this earth.
I knew deep down that this call was coming, each morning I awoke knowing that today could be the day that I got ‘the call’ but when it comes it’s like a blow to head with a sharp object. “Ok…..” was the best I could muster. It took me three days to register what was going on, while people around me were crying and distraught, I wondered what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t cry, was I human? And then the tears came, quietly at first and then with all the power and emotion I had expected.
And now I am here, stuck between living and waiting. Not quite sure what it is I should be doing right now. Some days I am strong enough to go to visit her, others I am not. On those other days I lie in my bed and sleep the day away, hoping that the inevitable will come soon. It feels wrong to ‘get on with it’ because I know that death is coming, at the same time I know that she would not want me to sleep my days away waiting for her to pass.
So today I awoke, determined to do something other than sleep. To wash my hair and put on some clean clothes, to go out to see her for a little while and then do something nice for myself. To cook my sweetheart a meal and to communicate with the world about just how it is that I am feeling.
So far, so good.