December 3rd, 2008 by Rainey

We spent Thanksgiving in Ohio with my grandparents.  In the course of two months my grandmother has gone from being the one who cooked dinner every night, paid the bills, and kept life on track for both she and my grandfather, to the one who is in a residential hospice center living with a cancer that has metastasized through her abdomen and possibly moved elsewhere.

She was the one who saw my grandpa through colon cancer into remission.  She now has colon, bladder, and liver cancer.  And she isn’t strong enough to fight it.

It seems strange.  She is still just as bright and with it as she ever was.  By far the most intelligent of all of us.  The one with the best memory.  The one who could beat us all at Scrabble, does crosswords each morning in less than thirty minutes, and reads more voraciously than anyone I have ever met.

It is just that now she does not get out of bed.  She is given morphine every four hours.  She is on light oxygen.  And she  has her dinner delivered to her on a tray.

I drove up on Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving with my mother, Zeke safely tucked into his carseat behind us.  We spent a few days there on our own and then were joined on Wednesday by my sister, Conan, and my dad.  Most mornings we went to hospice to spend time, then came home for lunch, then returned in the afternoon, and twice I went to be with her on my own in the evenings.

I would never trade that week for anything in the world.  Because my grandma was still my grandma.  She still was exactly who she always has been for me: one of the most important, closest, dearest people in my life.

Saying goodbye is strange.  It is a gift to recognize the opportunities for reminiscing.  For spending time.  For showing someone you love them.  But it is the last thing I want to do–I don’t want to say goodbye.  I do not want to lose her.  I do not want to lose all that she knows that we don’t know and won’t know without her.  I do not want to lose that unconditional love that she offers me that no one else can give me.  Life is too sweet to want to give it up, to let go of the ones you love that enrich your life and touch your heart.

But the fact remains that we had Thanksgiving in a hospice room this year.
And as much as we didn’t want to be there, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Because that was where our hearts were.  And we were thankful.

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