Thursday, February 17, 2011

Facing the Inevitable

When you’re 24 years old and all four of your grandparents are still living, you understand that the inevitable is probably not too far in the future. But it still sucks when the inevitable finally comes knocking at your door.

I apologize in advance that this entry may seem depressing, but this has been a bit of a rough week or so for me.  About a week and a half ago I found out that my grandmother’s cancer (which was discovered in her spine and her pelvis a year ago, five years after her breast cancer treatment was apparently successful) had now spread to her organs.  Her oncologist told my grandfather that she had four to six months left to live.  We already knew that she wasn’t doing well, so although it was tough to hear a timeline it wasn’t a huge shock. A few days ago, though, the hospice nurse that is now coming to their house on certain days told my grandfather that based on what the oncologist told her, her guess is that it’s going to be weeks, not months.

The last time Daniel and I had been to visit was about a month ago, and a couple of weeks later she was taken to the hospital because she had bleeding in her stomach.  We originally heard it was ulcers, but there are actually tumors that have come through the wall of her stomach.  She is still slowly bleeding, and they’re not doing any more blood transfusions. It could become a major bleed at any time.  So, Daniel, Charlie, my sister Marie, and I went to visit yesterday.  It was the first time we had seen her since her last hospital trip, and she looks worse than ever (not surprising).

My grandma has always been a very “robust” woman, to say the least—in body, temperament, and voice.  Although over the last year she had already lost a lot of weight and gotten more tired, until yesterday I had never seen her so quiet.  It was hard for her to move and breathe, she’s hooked up to oxygen, and the few times she chimed into the conversation she was hard to hear because she was so quiet.  My Grandma has never, ever, been quiet.

To say the least, I’m having a pretty hard time.  I’ve never lost anyone so close to me before—the closest was my Pappy, my Grandma’s dad, when I was 11.  I was pretty close to him, but he lived in Florida and I didn’t get to see him very often.  His wife, my Grammy, my Grandma’s mother, died just last year, two days after Charlie (her great-great-grandson) was born and two months shy of 100 years old.  I hadn’t seen her in about 10 years, though, and she wouldn’t have known who I was if I did.  Now less than a year later, her daughter is dying at just 74.  And I hate it.

I have images running through my mind constantly of Grandma, so many various memories that I have of her from my whole life, and all so sharply contrasted with the one of her yesterday, so small and quiet and weak.  I can’t reconcile it in my mind.

So, like I said, I’m having a hard time with this.  I also am finding that I find it really difficult to talk about it; Daniel is being very patient and understanding, though.  He has already lost three of his grandparents, although only one that he can remember.  I’m so glad I have him.

One bittersweet aspect of this whole thing for me is my grandfather (my Pop-pop).  He takes such good care of my Grandma.  He is really amazing, and it is heartwarming to see even though it is sad.  It makes me think about the future, about the later times of marriage for Daniel and me.  I hope that if I ever need to, I will be able to take such good, loving care of my spouse like my Pop-pop does.

Anyway, please pray for my family—I really appreciate it.  
Again, I’m sorry for the sad entry.

Friday, February 4, 2011

One Little Thing

Someone should invent some kind of device for holding a baby securely on one’s lap while sitting.  In other words, a baby carrier of sorts that isn’t actually meant for carrying your baby around—just something so that you can sit in a chair, on a stool, etc. with your baby on your lap and your hands free to use a keyboard and mouse or to eat dinner.  A couple of months ago, I was sure that I had happened across this very item on some baby gear blog-type website.  I forgot to save the link, though, and when I thought to go back and look for it, the thing was nowhere to be found.  It was made of fabric and had a kind of harness that could be strapped to either a chair (to use in place of a high chair at a restaurant, for example) or to a parent.  I have tried searching for it other places with no luck.  Does anyone out there have any idea what I am talking about?  I am beginning to feel as though the whole thing was a dream and that no such thing exists.  Anyway, my point is that if it does not, someone should invent it.

If I had such a thing, I would have been able to write this blog entry much earlier in the day.  Charlie has been very clingy this morning, making it very difficult to type.  I must admit, though, that my skill at one-handed typing has definitely improved in the last seven months.  This, however, is not what I had intended this entry to be about.  This is going to be another of my song-lyric inspired entries (those of you who have followed me for a while may remember that I have done this several times).  Have all of you country-listeners heard Darius Rucker’s new song “This”?  

This song has been stuck in my head a lot lately, and not only because it’s played on the radio a lot.  My sister Rose is in the process of applying to/visiting colleges and will need to make a choice as to what college she will attend as a freshman next year, which reminds me of my college decision process.  There were three schools to which I planned on applying, and only two applications ended up being put in the mail.  The school that I ended up going to was the one that was my parents’ first choice for me; my first choice initially was another. 

Both were Catholic schools, with close to the same tuition costs, and I was offered virtually the same amount of scholarship money to each.  In the end I made my decision not because I felt that one school was any better than the other, but because I could just “see” myself at one of them and not the other.  I just had a feeling.  Was that God nudging me in a certain direction?  I believe so. 

“And it’s crazy to think that one little thing could have changed all of this,” Darius Rucker sings.  If I had gone with my initial first choice, I would never have met Daniel (not to mention the other friends that I can’t imagine not being a part of my life).  Perhaps a college decision really isn't a “little” thing, but if a certain priest from the school I ended up attending had not occasionally said mass at my parish, my parents may never have encouraged me to apply to that school in the first place.  That’s a “little” thing, at least as far as it concerns me and my life.  A little thing that could have changed everything. 

No Daniel, no Charlie, no life as I know it.  Plus, I’m the type of person that enjoys sitting down and thinking of every little thing that would be different in cases like this, in both my life and in other people’s lives.  It’s really incredible to examine the fabric of God’s plan for all of His children and the way every element is woven together in His outside-of-time, all-knowing way.  I love looking for His hand in it all; and even when it’s hard to see, He is always there, knowing what is best for us, leading us, and ultimately knowing the way we will choose to exercise our free will and planning accordingly.  Awesome!

So for those of you making big life decisions right now, like my sister: no pressure.