Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The hardest time of my life

This is a long one.  It's somewhat of a therapy session for me.

I've been debating all week whether or not to post about this.  I've been getting a ton of support from everyone but I've been avoiding talking about it.  I'm the type of person who has no problem talking about other people's feelings or listening to other people's feelings and giving advice but when it comes to my feelings, I shut down completely.  Ask the Hubs.  It's his least favorite quality of mine.  But I've always been good with words. 

Growing up I always had a diary, which evolved to a journal as I got older.  It wasn't until I got married that I stopped journaling.  I honestly don't know why I stopped.  It's so therapeutic for me.  So why not give it a whirl now.

My grandpa passed away on Saturday.  I feel like it was totally unexpected yet expected at the same time.  He's been on Hospice care for a few years now.  He had lung disease, COPD, and emphysema really bad.  I guess a lifetime of smoking can do that to a person.  He didn't want to go into a residential Hospice facilty no matter how hard my grandma pushed him to. Then on Thursday afternoon, he decided it was time to go to Woodside (the residential Hospice facility in our area).  We were all shocked he decided to do this but he was getting too weak to care for himself and didn't want to burden anyone.  He was his normal sarcastic, dry sense of humor self when my parents left him Thursday night.  My mom was even mad (I should say irate) that they left him there.  Friday I got a phone call I will never forget.  My mom called my work to tell me he was unconscious.  Those words took my breath away.  How could this be?  He was fine a few hours ago.  After I composed myself (a few times) and got my patients squared away, the Hubs picked me up from work (I was in no shape to drive) and took me to Woodside, where we started our 29 hr vigil.  I went immediately into nurse-mode, monitoring his respiratory rate, depth, perfusion, etc.  I talked to the nurses and aides.  I feel like my grandma looked to me for validation that everything she was seeing was the way the dying process was supposed to look like.  It was a great coping mechanism because I've watched patients pass away. I also feel like it put me in a horrible position.  I was almost "working", trying to make sure everyone understood what was happening that I wasn't allowed to fully deal with what was happening.  But it's ok.  Again, it was a great coping mechanism.  My nurse-mode also allowed me to find out that he was actually alert and talking at 8am Friday morning.  Then he took a drastic turn for the worse within 2 hours.  How could it happen so fast?

There were many times I didn't think he'd last too much longer.  I didn't think he'd make it to 8pm.  Then he proved me wrong.  We didn't think he'd make it until Uncle Steve got there.  He proved us wrong.  We didn't think he'd hold on through the night.  Morning rolled around and he proved us wrong again.  So we all assumed he was holding on for Aunt Robin.  She was getting into town at 11am on Saturday.  She got there and he hung on.  Proved us all wrong again.  I guess I should tell you that my grandpa is one of the most stubborn people on the planet.  So I guess none of this shocks me.  He was doing everything his way, not ours.  At 6pm Saturday evening, my aunt leaned in and told my grandpa that she and her brother (my uncle) and his wife were taking my grandma to dinner and my parents, me and the Hubs were staying with him.  Once the door shut, I asked my dad where he wanted to sit.  He chose the comfy chair at the end of the bed.  My mom was on one side of the bed and I was on the other.  At that moment, my grandpa took his last breath.  I truly believe he chose that moment because it was the first time anyone told him my grandma wasn't in the room.  I don't think he wanted her to see him pass.  It's sorta romantic in a way. 

More than that, I am so blessed to have been by his side as he passed.  Yes, it was the hardest moment I've ever faced, knowing that I just saw my grandpa take a breath for the last time.  But it was also comforting that he felt comfortable enough, with me by his side, to take the next step in his journey.  I consider it a gift from my grandpa.  This idea helps me be at peace with everything (or at least get a little bit closer to being at peace with it).

He is the first grandparent we've lost.  My brothers and I don't really know loss.  Yeah I've lost patients that have been so close to my heart but it doesn't come close to comparing to the loss I feel now.  Seeing my Dad cry for the first time in my entire life was hard.  Seeing my baby brother look lost at the death of this great man was heartbreaking.  Watching my grandma lose the love of her life was almost too hard to watch.  It's all so hard to deal with.  I know he's in a better place and I know this is for the best.  But that does nothing to lessen the grief I feel. Hopefully it will as time goes on. 

We are preparing for the service on Saturday.  I know it will all come back to me.  I'm going to be a wreck.  It's going to make it even more real than watching him take his last breath.  The funeral will make it permanent.  I don't know if I'm ready for that.  I have to be and I'm sure I'll be just fine.  I'm just not sure I'm ready.
2 of the most important men in my Dad and my Grandpa
I love you Grandpa.  I know you're feeling so much better and you're in a better place but that doesn't make me miss you any less.  Please keep an eye out for us.  My kids need someone looking out for them and quite honestly, so do I.  Can you do me a favor?  Find all my kiddos that are up there with you and tell them all the great stories I grew up listening too.  I know they're going to love them as much as I did!!!