When I was little, before I could feed myself, my grandmother happily fed me. Today, when she wanted red jello, I was happy to feed it to her. Though I babbled then and didn’t really know what was going on, and she is completely aware of everything at this time, the similarities are uncanny. And filled with love.
It is remarkably powerful to watch a life end. We are all gripped by sadness and emotion. We cling to one another, in a world of suspended time at Gigi’s bedside, until eventually we take leave – we must, our lives are calling – and escape into the obligations and details of our daily life.
I have one foot in my everyday world and one foot in a world of memory and love and time-standing-still.
We all know that no one lives forever, but we sure do behave as if it isn’t so. As I drove away from the hospital today, I shut off the music and talked with the kids about how we all take so much for granted. There will always be time. I’ll visit her, spend time with him, later…later…later…
Sometimes, that refrain works and there is a later and we make it happen. We fit it into what we think is so important. Our day-to-day lives are not that important; it’s the relationships in them, the moments we maximize, the way we infuse lives with meaning and make a difference in someone’s heart. That’s living.
Crossing things off a to-do list or running from school to dance to tennis to the gym to the grocery to the cleaners to wherever, not so much.
I marvel at how much I just figure will happen eventually. Some day. Later.
How do I know? Who gave me a guarantee that tomorrow will come?
At the end of a life, we gather urgently, we hold Grandma’s soft, soft bony hand, we hug each other a lot, we say I love you… except my family always said I love you.
But we also got annoyed with each other, we fought, we were indignant, believing we were right and others weren’t. The stuff of every family, of every relationship. That’s arrogant, taking for granted the self-righteousness of anger. How brazen are we to dare to be annoyed? To dare to stand on ceremony, believing we are due some credit or attention?
That’s the way of humanity, day in and day out. It is easy to be kind and calm in good times. In times of crisis, we cling. In times of wealth, we cast off whatever we think doesn’t work for us.
Except that everything and everyone who came into our lives did so for a reason. What a gift! What a joy! Even the ones who most bother us, are teaching us something precious.
Every life is so incredible. I marvel at the fact that we wake every morning, jump out of bed, feel the hot pelting of the shower, put a slice of bread in the toaster to watch it change into something new.
Every moment a gift! Seriously – when was the last time we understood how our heart beats, how our blood flows, the fact that there is air to gulp in and toxins to breathe out?
Every time I drive my car, I am amazed at the fact that we steer these metal boxes across the miles to our destinations and emerge intact. There is so much miracle all around us!! And we don’t see it. None of us do. We plod along in our lives, complaining, disgruntled, neither grateful nor noticing the moments.
To love someone so much as to want to be at her bedside in the final days, weeks, months of her life – and to be wanted there. Wow. That is no small gift.
To have the joy of nourishing my grandmother in the way she has nourished me for 41 years. It seems such a small thing, but it really is the biggest thing of all.