Anxiety burned like a white hot fire that started at the pit of my stomach, and blazed all the way up to my face igniting my face with furry and misery. My small framed body shuddered as I made my way to the hospital's main elevators. I always knew this day would come. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, nothing seemed real.
The gold colored elevator doors opened up to my new destination, there was no turning back now.. it was time to face the horror I dreaded my entire life. There were other families there too, visiting their loved one for the last time. I was in the wing of the hospital where you go to say goodbye. No one here was expected to get better. On my way to the front desk I passed a middle aged man sobbing in the hallway. His hands clenched tightly into fists that lightly pounded the top of his balding head, tears streaming uncontrollably from he squinting eyes. Out of respect I quickly diverted my eyes to the floor, and quickly walked by... he was so grief stricken that he didn't even notice me.
The nurse at the front desk quietly directed me to my loved one's room. Very little eye contact was exchanged between anyone on this floor; which I liked..I didn't want anyone to see me break down. Every room I passed had someone in them, laying on a bed hooked up to numerous machines. Some had family next to their bedsides, and some lay all alone. My stomach dropped to my feet when the nurse stopped walking, and pointed to room #14. "Thank you," I muttered under my breath but the nurse was already gone. A huge lump formed in my throat, I tried to swallow it down but the harder I tried the bigger the lump got. "Don't cry," I told herself. I walked into the hospital room, the room where my Grandmother, lay dying. She was more than a grandmother.. she was my mother. For 26 years this wonderful woman raised me, helped me, and became my best friend. All that was about to come to an earth shattering end tonight.
My Grandmother was hooked up to many different machines, all making distinct, intimidating noises. I was told that her request was to see me and a pastor.. she knew her life was coming to an end tonight.
Taking a deep breath, and holding my head high I walked next to her bed. She immediately looked up at me with her tired, brown eyes; and wrapped her limp arms around my neck. "I love you." She whispered into my ear. The lump burned in the back of my throat, my head ached with unimaginable pain. I was overcome with grief. I broke out into a wild fit of tears. "I love you too. SO MUCH!" She held me. Like I was her newborn grandbaby once again, and in that moment I would have given anything to make that so. "Don't cry." She insisted, which of course made me sob more. Even on her death bed she was taking care of me.
She was so fragile, so lifeless, but she held onto me with great strength. She listed off things she wanted me to do with my life. I nestled my face into her chest trying to inhale her scent. I could tell the moment was getting close now. The nurses needed me to leave so they could do something to her... they babbled on about needing it to be a sterile environment, but the words went in one ear and out the other. I didn't want to go. It was as if my gut knew this was it, I'd leave and it would be the last time I'd ever see her alive. She gave me one last hug, we said I love yous once more and I had to leave. My eyes burned from the tears I cried, my head flooded with memories that I would no longer have with her anymore, and before I made it completely out of her room they called a code blue.
Doctors, nurses, every staff member available rushed into her room while I was pushed even farther out. "This is it," I thought, "this is it." I couldn't cry in that moment, too much anxiety coursed through my veins, and I silently prayed that whatever was going on in there..that she wasn't feeling any pain.
My hands shook with pure fear as the hospital staffed started to file out of her room. Her doctors rambled on about putting her on a ventilator, and the decision needed to be made about her quality of life. Without the ventilator she will only survive a few minutes. The Doctor had a french accent. My eyes blurred again with tears, I pictured the woman that raised me in my mind. Very strong, willful, and full of life .. and I compared that image to the woman who laid on that bed, hooked up to machines. Only living because I was too selfish to let her go. I knew what she wanted, and it wasn't this. At least this way I could say goodbye; she wouldn't have to die alone.
She was asleep the whole time. But I held tightly onto her hand, kissed her forehead lightly and whispered a quiet goodbye as I choked back tears. I've never known grief like this before, and it was slowly consuming my body as I watched her precious life float away from me. There were many times in my life where I valued her existence more than my own... and now she was gone. The pastor slowly rambled out the LORD's prayer, hugged me, and left.
I sat with her for a while. Remembering times we shared together. I begged the God I didn't really believe in to give me a sign that she was finally at peace. That there was indeed a heaven, and she was in it. But nothing ever happened. I brushed her hair away from her silently, sleeping face.. and started to walk out the door. Looking back only once to tell her I love you again, just in case she could hear me.