Updated: Jan 3
I am feeling unspeakably sad at the beginning of this new year. My grandma, who had been struggling with Parkinson's disease, passed away in August 2019. Her death took a toll on all of us, particularly my mom and I. My mom was one of my grandma's primary caregivers, and she visited her every day. My grandma needed to be in a senior living facility to accommodate the needs caused by her disease, but my mom made an effort to make Brighton Gardens feel like a true home. After five years of fighting, slowly degenerating and losing control of her mind and body, my grandma passed away. My mom's strength, which she mustered in order to be there for her mom, cracks and her heart broke. I too miss my grandma however her death opened the floodgates of repressed memories I had pushed away to protect myself.
When my grandma got sick, I was graduating high school and heading off to college. When I got home for Christmas break, the grandma that greeted me was not the one I had known all my life. My grandma was a huge part of my childhood, a constant. Growing up, mom, sister and I would head to "the sev" (my grandma's house) nearly every day. My cousin Carissa and I would have sleepovers there nearly every weekend. I was lucky to have a large family that was always together. The grandma I knew was not quite there anymore and the pain was a little too great for my heart and mind to deal with at the time. Instead of doing the right thing, the thing I would do now in a heartbeat, I compartmentalized. I pushed all those memories out of my head, to solve the acute pain I was feeling. I focused on anything else, and didn't visit as much as I should. I couldn't bear it, and I turned off my emotions as much as I could. Looking back, I can't imagine such as thing. Why did I think that was smart? Why did I think that was the right way to handle it? How could I? But I did.
I found ways to connect with my grandma that disconnected me from the stark reality of how sick she was. I texted her every single night from the second semester of my freshman year until the day she passed away. Later, I began visiting more but never let myself remember. In doing so, I hurt myself more than I could have imagined. If I could go back, I would visit her every day of my summer vacations. I would read her books and magazines, watch Disney movies, and just talk to one of the first, truest friends I ever had. I wouldn't be selfish, even if I went home and cried afterward.
When my grandma slipped into a coma at the beginning of this summer, we knew it was the end. My family flew in from Texas, and we spent every hour at her bedside until she passed away. Although she passed away peacefully, her death was long and painful. She suffered. I spent every second of those final weeks sat at her bedside. I recited prayers, especially the rosary and the Memoriae. I told her stories, confessions, jokes. Everything I hadn't been saying poured out of me. I don't know if she heard, but I hope she did. I hope she could forgive me. My grandma had the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I can only hope she did. I talked to her for hours, and I still do. Whenever I'm alone, I talk to her in heaven, confiding in her as I should have done all along. Even now, as I go forward into my future unsure, my grandma is shaping my life and teaching me how to be better, as she always has.
I have so many regrets I can't even begin to count them. Grandma, I am truly hoping you visited us this holiday season and celebrated in heaven with Grandpa and Nanaan. I love you forever.