I see dead people.
Ok no I don’t but sometimes I think I do. Or wish I could.
I haven’t seen much of Grey’s Anatomy this season but I’ve seen enough to know that there is a story arc about Izzy seeing, and talking to (and ick – having sex with) her dead fiancé, Denny. My first though is that this is a stupid storyline. Stoo-Pid. And yet, my second though finds me thinking “if only…”
As far as grandparents were concerned, I was a lucky kid. When I was born, I had 2 grandmothers, a grandfather, a step-grandfather, a great-grandfather, and two great-grandmothers. I lost two of the “greats” when I was really little, so while I remember them a little bit, I don’t remember their passing. So my first real loss was when my great grandma (Nana) died when I was a teenager. I took her death really hard. At the time, I remember feeling like the pain would never go away, that I would never stop crying myself to sleep at night. And it took a long time, but eventually I did. Even after that, it was years before I stopped crying almost every time I thought of her. I still miss her today, but it’s less a sharp stick in the heart and more of a good memory kind of thing.
In my early twenties, my step-grandfather died, and I was sad, but it wasn’t as devastating as losing Nana.
When I got married, I had three grandparents dancing at my wedding. And when the boy was born, I had three grandparents taking care of him for me. He spent three days a week with Grammy and Pap (my paternal grandparents) and two days a week with Baba (my maternal grandmother). When he was about two or so, Baba had a stroke that left her still pretty healthy, and able to live on her own, but unable to care for the boy. But it was OK – she was fine, and he still had her in his life.
Around that same time, Pap died. It was kind of sudden, though not entirely unexpected, as he was in his 90’s. It happened quickly, which was good, because I couldn’t have stood to see him suffer and linger. He died the strong, vital man that he was all his life. He went to the hospital and we arranged to bring the boy in to see him (they adored each other. It took a couple of days and Pap was over the moon when we showed up with him. And then, as if he were waiting for that last chance to see his favorite person in the whole worked, Pap was gone.
I worried about Grammy, but having the boy with her all the time helped her. She was still strong and vital and extremely healthy and happy (if a little clumsy – I come by it naturally). She still watched him for me most days. He started pre-school, so on those days, I would drop him of at my parents’ house and on the others, I would drop him at Grammy’s. One day, I got to my parents house at around 7:00am and my dad’s truck wasn’t there. He could have gone to the store, or to get gas, or to and early appointment, or breakfast with a friend, or to get coffee. But somehow, I knew that he wasn’t doing any of those things. I knew right away that something was wrong. I sat in the car for a few minutes, dreading what I was about to hear. When I walked in the house, my mom pulled me aside and told me that my dad went to Grammy’s and that they were heading to the hospital.
I got to the hospital and found them in the ER. It turned out that my beautiful, vital. Healthy grandma had a stroke. She was feeling terrible, but she was lucid and was glad to see me. Being Grammy, she apologized for not being able to take care of the boy that afternoon. I told her don’t be silly. I hugged her and kissed her and told her she was going to be fine. I held her hand and held the basin while she threw up. And all the while, I knew she would be fine. After a while, I left to go grab a drink and while I was in the snack bar, she had another stroke. When I came back she was gone. She was still alive – her body was alive. But she was gone. She lingered for about a week and a half while we grieved and cried and made terrible, agonizing decisions. It was the worst time of my life. When she died, I was terribly sad, but I was ready. We all were, because we lost our sweet Grammy about 10 days before.
Years have passed since I have lost these two wonderful people, but they are always with me. In my thoughts, my memories. Sometimes I feel like they are just at the edge of my vision. I don’t dream about them though. I wish I could, because it would be like having them back again, if only for a few moments as I sleep. I dreamed about Pap once. He was standing right over my shoulder and he told me he was right here, that he always had been. And he told me in his own voice, and not in the electronic voice that he had used for years due to a laryngectomy.
Sometimes, when I am out, I will hear someone speaking with the electric voice and it takes my breath away. Because even thought they mainly all sound alike, to me, that was his voice and I swear I am hearing him, in the post office, or just one aisle over in wal-mart.
And sometimes I see Grammy, or I think I do. She had beautiful white hair, and sometimes, as I am walking down the street, or in the grocery store, or in the airport, I catch a glimpse of snow white hair and it stops me in my tracks. I’ll find myself thinking “Turn around”, because for a second it’s her and I want to see her face. And then I find myself thinking “Don’t turn around” because I know it’s not and I can’t bear losing her again.
Sometimes, I will follow behind, allowing myself to pretend that it is her and that I’m just walking a bit behind her, perhaps having stopped to wait for one of the kids, or tie someone’s shoe, but with confidence that I will catch up and it will be her. That she’ll smile at me and call me a slowpoke for getting behind, and we’ll laugh. And she’ll take each child by the hand and we’ll walk off together. Two women and two children, and not simply one woman with a little piece of her heart missing, a memory of white hair, and a bittersweet wish she knows can’t come true.
I’ll resume my Christmas: Fail giveaways next post. This didn’t really feel like a giveaway type story.