We have entered Deathwatch 2020. I'm here in person, but we got mom to cancel the actual Thanksgiving -- the one where somehow, she, her mom's primary caretaker since the beginning of October, was also going to cook the same elaborate 3-day-in-the-making Thanksgiving fest she always does -- and host all her siblings and their significant others that were willing to come -- and, at least in the plans from 1-2 weeks ago, hoist our bed-bound grandmother into a wheelchair and wheel her out to the dining room to preside -- that is, sleep, or at least not be able to feed herself or recognize any of the attendees -- at the head of the table.
Glad that we got her to cancel that.
Things took a turn for the worse with Gram about a week ago. She hasn't eaten or taken in fluids since last Thursday really. I came up from VA earlier than planned so I could be here for my mom. As of yesterday my sister's been staying in the house too (to avoid some potential COVID complications that come along with careless roommates) and in a way it's kind of nice. It's as nice and as supportive as we can make it for my mom.
Gram could go today, or tomorrow. Dad's metaphorical money has been for Thursday this whole time. He's also got a pretty good history at accurately guessing what his wrapped Christmas/birthday presents are, so it would be a nice but not-immediately-mentionable feather in his prescience cap if he got this one right too. Maybe I should thank him for my generally-on-point gut predictions when same-day 15-minute "Team Update" meetings land on our calendars at work.
Mom is grieving, and this is very tough on her. Wish that made her any easier to deal with, but nope -- turns out you don't get any less bossy or controlling when you're taking care of someone you love who's dying by the minute and hasn't been conscious since Saturday or Sunday. Oh, how we can hate the things we do because of the people we love, and because or when those things are part of doing our best to love them in the way that feels best -- in the only way that felt right, reasonable, conscionable to us in the dimly lit maze of paths of adult life and "never been here before" and we had to make a decision in the moment before the path went ahead and passed us by, making the decision for us because life moves on even if we decide we are paralyzed and cannot move with doubt.
It is good to have this exposure and this experience. The death of each of your grandparents, after all, is both an inevitable and shared human experience. In this way, I can see this experience as making me less alone: I am being somewhere so many others have been before. This is something I will now have in common with many, and something that others in my life will experience in the future and having experienced it already may help me be close to them when it happens in their experiences.
Life is not all comfortable, bright, happy and kind. There is also value in being here, and in or for the discomfort that it brings. If I were not here for this I would be robbed of some of the depth and spectrum of human experience.
We must confront our realities head-on. No, it will not always be comfortable -- nor should it. No, we will not always like it -- nor should we expect that: we should not expect that every square of the quilt of our entire human life will be cut from the same cloth. That would make it worse than boring. It would make it not worth mentioning; it would make the whole thing forgettable, machine-replicable, and in a way -- because it would be facile to reproduce, because it would be uniform and no piece would have any difference -- it would make such a life lose much value.
Existence that is the same all the time is called stasis. Can stasis be considered any real existence at all?
When I was 19 I looked a metaphorical shotgun down the barrel and I decided that I was the kind of person who, when I realized there were hard things happening ahead, would confront them and deal with them. Regardless of whether I did or didn't want to and regardless of how it made me feel while I dealt with them.
I would rather look the monster in the face and see it coming, watch it as it moves, and learn to recognize what it looks like -- than hide beneath the covers, hope this would make it disappear, and never know what it was doing or where it was headed or whether it was coming for me at all.
That doesn't mean I enjoy the looking. But I am here to grit my teeth, and do it.