Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Grandmother

My grandmother just died. 

For two weeks, I've been wanting to say that to every stranger I see. Grab them and shake them and scream those four words at them. I want to make them feel as uncomfortable as I feel. 

Because I'm angry that they didn't stop...that the world didn't stop when she did. Things just kept going as if she never existed, as if she never mattered. But I want them to understand that my world did stop. 

I want them to understand that my eyes are swollen and haunted because I've never watched someone I adore slip away into nothingness. Understand that I'm sleepwalking in a fog of grief---slow and distracted and not myself. Understand that I've never felt so fragile, like I'm made out of glass.  Like my heart is breaking and I can't breathe.  

I never knew I was capable of enduring pain this intense and this unrelenting. It's the absolute worst moment of my life. And I'll never be the same. There was me when she was alive and now there's me when she's dead…

***

My grandmother was beautiful. Achingly, stunningly beautiful. She was strong and complicated and smart and funny and damaged and a force of nature and charming and ambitious and stubborn. But most all, she was mine. She's the only grandparent I ever met. 

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My grandmother was my mother's mother. My mother was her only child just like I am my mother's only child.  Whenever they'd describe our triangle, they would say, "Unica hija de una unica hija." 

My grandmother and my mother had an epically awful relationship. My entire life I've felt guilty about the wonderfully close relationship I have with my mother.  It is in many ways the direct result of how bad her relationship with her own mother was. 

And so the thing my mother most wanted in life was to be a mother---and in her mind, right many wrongs. And becoming a mother didn't come easily. She lost two sets of twins before having me.  When I was born, I was a kind of miracle.

My mother was determined to be everything to me that my grandmother hadn't been to her.  For better or worse, I knew that from a very young age. It was this thing all three of us knew but never talked about, like some unspoken sisterly pact. 

In the past few years, things had hit a breaking point in their relationship. As my grandmother grew older, she became increasingly stubborn and hurtful, refusing to see or talk to my mother. Money became wrapped up in their six decades of issues. There were lies and emotional daggers galore. I was used as a pawn. It was all kinds of ugly. 

And after 30 years of being caught in the middle of the two women who raised me, the two women I loved most, I'd had enough. I decided I didn't want to be part of the emotionally scarring cycle anymore.  I realized I wasn't a little girl anymore. I had a choice.

So I chose my mom. Which meant I stopped trying to talk to my grandmother. I stopped trying to see her.  I shut down. 

Mr. Diabolina, knowing how painful my decision was, would periodically bring her up. See if I wanted to reach out, call her, write her. But like her, I was stubborn. I said I didn't want to hurt my mom. I reminded him my grandmother had my number too, that I wasn't the only one that could reach out.  

And frankly, I thought I had time. My grandmother had always been healthy as a horse, looking years younger than her actual age. Her side of the family typically lives well into their 90s.  I figured things would work themselves out and we would reconnect. I guess I didn't want to even think about the alternative...

But then one day, we get a call telling us my grandmother's in the hospital. She's dying. To come quickly. 

When we get there, she's unrecognizable, full of tubes, motionless, in a coma, dying. She's not beautiful and she's not stubborn and she's not strong anymore. And yet she's still mine.

My mom and I are told that we have to make the decision to take her off the machines, that she's in pain, that mentally she's not there anymore.  And it's not like the movies where you quietly watch someone slip away.  There's nothing peaceful about it.  It's horrifying.  

My mom and I are doubled over, howling in agony, praying for her soul, begging for her forgiveness, clinging to each other for dear life. Ultimately, we didn't have to make the decision to let her go, her body just gave up. 

And we were there by her side in those last moments...watching her life force drain away...watching a major part of ourselves die too.  


16 comments:

MavJen said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. :(

Silver Fox said...

Thank you for writing this and sharing your grief. Know that over time the fog will indeed lift and you will be able to enjoy pigging out and fancy shoes again, I promise. Just get through today. You are so loved!

I.A.J said...

Sorry for your loss my grandmother on my dad's side also died this month last yr, but the difference was that I never met her. We were countries apart. She was sick too. - amirajsfashiondiaries.blogspot.com

JCHokie said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It's never easy and your rocky relationships just complicated things. All you can do is take it one day at a time. Try not to hold on to any guilt or anger. Hugs to you and your mom. You should also take comfort in the closeness of you and your mom. Not everyone has that.

Kate Miller said...

Oh Diana, I just wish I could give you a big hug. <3

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Andi said...

Oh I am so sorry to hear this. I am sending my deepest condolences for your loss. This sounds like an especially rough circumstance to digest and handle. I lost my grandpa at the beginning of this year and it hurts so much. Like you said-my life is divided into the time that he was alive, and then the time that he wasn't. I'm so sorry:( I hope you and your precious mom are finding peace with her passing and in each other.

40PlusFashionista said...

I lost my father who was my life mentor. He was only 66 years old. He wasn't ill, it was sudden and unexpected. I can only imagine how you are feeling. You and your mom will find strength in each other. Stay strong. *hugs*

Lauren said...

I am so sorry for your loss! Prayers for you and your family!

Lynn said...

It sounds all kinds of wrong to say that I like this post, but I always appreciate the raw sincerity in your posts, especially the ones where the subject matter is so incredibly personal. It is in those painful moments that your writing shines the most and fully comes to life. I think that is the curse/gift of a writer - channeling one's grief into prose that is achingly beautiful. While it is incredibly painful to lose someone so dear to you, despite your complicated relationship/history, your grandmother's true legacy is your tight relationship with your mother. There are no words I can say to ease your pain - only hope to offer a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold, however far apart we are.

Sheila said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

JCH said...

Oh hun, my heart hurts for you. I cannot tell you how incredibly linked we are...as I read your post, it was like I was reading about my own life.

I caution you that you will feel an overwhelming sense of guilt...hoping you could do more, you could turn it around. I've learned that there was nothing I could do to make their relationship better, and deep down, I'm sure you're grandmother knew how important she was to you.

Love you and thinking of you every day...

lookrichbitch said...

sending love your way..

Anne H said...

My deepest regrets!

Michelle said...

I'm so sorry for your loss :(

Jean Bean said...

You are a miracle.

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