North of here, my grandfather is in the hospital. It’s my cliched instinct to write that he is fighting for his life, but I’m not sure he is. I’m fairly certain he’s just ready to go home now. So maybe he’s peaceful, sleeping, breathing until the end like Mom did . . .
I wonder if every death for the rest of my life will be an echo of Mom’s. Will every person I lose? Every story I read? Every friend who shares their pain call to forth those days with Mom? I expect so, and only now is it that I realize this may be why so many people think they know what each of us lives through in grief. We are – in those moments – recalling our own pain and laying over the pain others are having. I think that may be because every time I think of dying – not my own death by the process – I think of Mom’s face, so pale and sallow. Her hair pressed close to her head. Putting ice chips into her lips. Those last few bites of mandarin orange, a food I had never seen her eat before, as her last food on earth. I remember sitting beside her, trying to read. So cold in that room. Her leg with the catheter bag.
Then, I pull back out. I don’t want to remember those things, at least not all the time. Maybe with each new death, I will remember more and release more. That will be my prayer.
Today, though, I sit in this gray day and think of my grandfather. The glazed donuts from Ingall’s that he bought every day. The cans of coke and the slices of american cheese. His tan van with the demo tape in it that played Toto’s “Africa” all the time. I think of his loud voice and his kind heart. I think of him and know I will miss him. Sad, grey day. “Miserable day,” Grandpa would say. On this rainy day, I find I agree.
And when I go to the store, I will buy donuts.