A year and four days ago, my very lively, healthy grandmother got suddenly ill and went into the hospital. Her daughters called with details of her condition, and I immediately called my big sister, a nurse, for the translation. She told me our Grandma could recover, that the problem was potentially not serious. The following day, her condition declined, and my sister, again translating the unfamiliar terms and descriptions, told me it didn't look good. What a burden to understand what others don't and to have to give that kind of news. I remember being grateful that she could explain the situation and grateful I wasn't the oldest.
I panicked. I called her daughters - should I drive up to Seattle? Would I make it in time? They encouraged me to stay in Portland, but I was able to have a brief exchange with my Grandma that included, as every call did, I love you's.
She continued to decline. We kept long-distance vigil. I walked into work on Monday morning, the 10th, feeling like I wasn't even in my body. Before I sat down, my asst. said, "Are you sure you should be here? You don't look so good." And then my phone rang. And that quickly, she was gone.
A year later, I genuinely feel like I go in and out of awareness or belief that she is no longer sitting in Seattle in her La-Z-Boy watching the Mariner's game, directing each player by name. I feel certain that, were I to call, she would still be there - the unmistakable voice on the other end of the line telling me how much she loves me and how happy she is to have us kids in her life. She was our last grandparent, and I don't know why the loss has been so devastating. I know she lived a long life, and I know she's no longer suffering. But I miss her so terribly. And more today than usual.