January 14, 2014

What I Learned from Saying Goodye

Oh, what a long weekend this was!  I haven't slept well, I am extremely emotional, and I have spent most of the day crying at randomly weird times.  But, I will make it and each day will get better!

We got the call Friday morning (during HAHE classes) that my grandmother had been found unresponsive (she and grandpa live in an assisted care facility) after breakfast.  When they got her to the hospital they discovered she'd had a massive brain bleed.  The prognosis was not good.  Surgery would not help and there was really nothing else they could do.  I am so thankful that, though my sisters and I were not able to be there, my cousin's wife, who also happens to be an RN/Nurse anestheticist (I have no idea how you spell that), was there to explain everything simply to my mom and her sisters and help them to make an informed decision about Grandma Dorothy's care.  My older sister and I (the only 2 of the 23 grandchildren who live farther than 45 minutes away) got there as soon as we could, already prepared for her to be gone before we got there.  She lived another 2 days, despite the fact that she actually flatlined 5 times.  She was an amazing woman!

Some things I learned this weekend;
-Laughter truly is a gift from God's hand.  I don't even know the last time I laughed so much with my cousins.  It was a great time of remembering some funny stories and even making some new ones we'll have fun telling over and over.
-Saying goodbye is important and very difficult. We gathered around her bed and said our goodbyes so many times.  I don't think this made any difference to Grandma, but it sure did to us.  It was a way to show our parents that we will be there for them, even in the hardest of times. It was a way to show grandpa that we love him and we wanted to honor his amazing bride.  It was also a way for me to show my faith, to truly praise Him in the midst of our suffering.  It was not easy, but necessary.
-Our words and actions mean a lot. As we sat talking, we all realized that we had never heard Grandma and Grandpa say "I love you" to one another.  Now, none of us have ever doubted for a moment that they were in love, they just never said it.  In fact, other than maybe putting their arms around each other for a picture here or there, we never even say them hold hands or show affection for each other.  But, there was nothing sweeter or more important for those of us watching, than to watch Grandpa hold her hand for three days.  Hearing him say "I love you" every time we thought we would lose her was priceless.  It was a great reminder that we have no guarantee of tomorrow and what you say right now may be the last thing you ever say to the one you love.  What do you want that to be?  Screaming and shouting about things not going your way or a declaration of love,despite the circumstance?  I have already failed several times today in trying to put this into practice, but I have been trying to think more before opening my mouth.  I have been trying to hug the kids, kiss the husband, and make sure I always tell them I love them.
-My tears aren't for those dying, but for those left behind. I have the blessing of knowing that Grandma knew Christ, had a relationship with Him, and is worshiping at His feet eternally.  I will see her again some day.  But the thought of Grandpa being alone for the first time in almost 67 years, it's heartbreaking.  My mom has talked to or seen her mother everyday for the last...well...I don't even know how many years.  Knowing she's already gone over 24 hours without doing either just brings tears to my eyes.  Life will be changing drastically for both of them.  I am thankful that they both of Christ to lean on in this time.
-God is sovereign, even in the end. We all kept saying that Grandma was waiting to pass away until her younger brother made it to the hospital (he lives in TX).  Admittedly, she entered her final moments, literally, as he pulled into the hospital parking lot and died within 30 minutes of him entering her room.  However, I now firmly believe that God kept her living until he got there because those of us in the room needed to hear the last words his darling wife said to my grandmother.  Folks, she unashamedly shared the Gospel in that moment.  Those of us who knew it, needed to be reminded of the hope we have, and those who aren't saved needed to hear that truth again, in that moment.  I am so blessed that I was able to be there and hear those words, perhaps even the last words that Grandma heard.  I wanted (but didn't) to just start belting "And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near, and my time has come.  Still my soul will sing Your praise unending, 10,000 years and then forever more."
-The best in us comes out in the worst of times. We were so well-loved and well cared for the entire time we were in the hospital.  People brought snacks and food, sat and chatted with us, gave hugs, and were just there.  The nurses were amazing.  The kitchen staff brought us a new snack tray at least twice a day.  They were continually bringing us pitchers of ice water and coffee.  It was amazing.  I've never been in a hospital that did anything like that.  The kind words and prayers from those many miles away was also such a blessing.  The texts and facebook messages really were something to continually be looking forward to during all the waiting.  It was all such a blessing.

Lord, thank You for the time that Grandma had on this earth.  I thank You that she was Your child and is now with You in heaven.  Please pour Your peace and comfort on each member of our family.  Draw many to You, even in this time of hurting and heartache.


  1. Beautiful Heather and praying for your family right now.

  2. Bonnie Hazelwood-GarciaJanuary 18, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Heather, this brought me to tears! I so enjoy reading of your life and faith. I see your mom and dad in you all the time. You have accepted the baton of faith are carrying it well. Praying for you in this very sad time. Thank God, you have such a wonderful family and may God send The Comforter close, that's my prayer.