I am afraid to say I haven't had it in me to write a blog post this week. My heart has been heavy, weighed down with the difficulties of what comes with age, the tough part of growing up and losing those we love. I've said good bye to so many people who were close to me throughout my life, and as I told my nephew once when he was struggling with it himself, I wish I could say it gets easier with age. He was 11 at the time and sad that his great-grandpa was of ill health. I sat there with him on the couch, just so he knew I was there, and I told him what I thought about death in terms of what a teenager could understand. It sucks. It just does. And it sucks no matter how old you are. It just sucks. And what sucks even more? Watching someone you love suffer before they do pass to the other side.
I have one grandparent left, my mom's dad. Grandpa George. He means the world to me. He's one of the smartest men I know (aside from my father, of course), and he just cares so much for his family. After my Grandma died in 2000, I became closer to him, driving from Bloomington to see him for a Friday night dinner, sending him cards just so he knew I missed him, and even calling every now and then. The phone conversation would last exactly 30 minutes, and I remember after those first few months he was so excited about how he was learning to cook soup and take care of himself. He was becoming more independent. He was lonely, though, and that was why it meant so much to me to spend time with him when I could.
He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2006 after a heart attack he suffered the weekend after my law school graduation. He had triple bypass surgery and a valve replacement, and he just hasn't been the same since. As he has gotten older, his health has faltered off and on and has quickly deteriorated over the past year. This last spring, my mom and her siblings had to make the tough decision to put him in assisted living. See, because of his heart failure, his kidneys were shutting down, too, and he was forgetting things like what day it was, whether he ate, whether he took his pills. It just got scary. So he was put in a home sometime in April. And I don't think he's understood or remembered why he was put in assisted living. I was told yesterday that he doesn't even remember that I was married in September or that he was at the wedding. He didn't remember it at all.
This past weekend, he was put in the hospital because fluid was building up throughout his entire body. His kidneys and his heart can't keep up, so they've drained five liters of fluid out, and he's going to a rehab facility for the time being. The problem is...this fluid is going to return. His kidneys are functioning at 20 percent, and they will not get better. We have no long term plans at this point, just short term ones.The plan? Get him well enough so that he can spend the weekend of July 30th with his family. My entire family is coming together for a reunion next weekend. We hope that he'll be well enough to join us for part of it, but if he is not, it has been decided we will see him in shifts at the nursing home. But I truly hope he does get the chance to spend a day with his entire family, surrounded by those he loves.
It hit me yesterday after I spoke to my mother that this may very well be the last time I speak to my Grandpa (in this life, at least). The thought of this crushed me last night, and I finally let the weight of all of this hit me and cried...I mean, really let myself cry, about it. I thought about what I would want to say to him. I love you? That's a given. But it just doesn't feel like enough.
Many years ago, we started a tradition....well, he started it. He would hug me good bye, kiss me on the cheek and say "I'm so glad you got to see me today!" It always made me laugh, and it became a thing...we'd try to beat each other to it. I still say that to him when I say good bye. "Grandpa, I'm so glad you got to see me today." But really, I think when I hug him good bye next weekend, to me, it's quite the opposite. "Grandpa, I'm so glad I got to see you today."
It's hard. I don't want to lose him, but I don't want him to live the life he's living now. Because it's not much of a life. I want him to be with my Grandma in heaven. But as I told T last night, I would love to just spend one more day....with both him and my Grandma. I miss her so much. And it's breaking my heart because I know I'll miss him just the same.
So I hope you'll excuse me for the next few days if I don't blog as often as I normally do. I'll try to write as I can, but my heart...and my mind, for that matter, just isn't in it. But I do ask that you keep this special man in your prayers and thoughts.