I don’t think you’re ever truly ready to lose someone. No matter how much you have been prepared or have tried to prepare yourself for the moment it never hurts any less. And when you’re thousands of miles away from your family that hurt digs a little deeper, you feel it a little more.
I knew my grandma with Dementia/Alzheimer’s longer than I knew her without. I saw the transition from dementia to Alzheimer’s to remembering who I was to seeing her struggle to come up with what granddaughter I was to being able to say my name to not being able to talk.
I saw the pain it caused my family. My mom being frustrated with my grandma and grandpa for not admitting that Alzheimer’s was going to take her away and my mom distancing herself from them to my mom going to see my grandma in the nursing home every other day. Endless arguments and trying to convince my grandpa that “she’s not coming home ever again”.
I saw my grandpa lose the love of his life right before my eyes years before she passed. They made me believe in soulmates and true love. They still do. The way my grandpa would look at her, the way he would go to the nursing home every single day and hold her hand, the way my grandma’s eyes lit up when she saw him even though you knew she didn’t know anyone else she had been familiar with for years prior. Those things didn’t stop.
Our family prepared ourselves for my grandma’s passing. There were times where we even prayed for her to be set free so she wouldn’t have to suffer, live a life she never wanted. But no one can truly ever prepare for that moment when your entire family heads up to the nursing home to say goodbye, one last time.
I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t suppose to happen now. No one was worried about it happening when I was gone. Her mom (my great-grandma) lived to her 90s under the same circumstance.
A week ago, I was filming with friends and we ended up filming a funeral scene. My boss joked, “I mean… you weren’t prepared to go to a funeral during your internship.” I laughed. No I wasn’t. I still am not.
So when I got a call from my sister in the middle of Tijuana Flats I thought it was just a check in, “hey, how are things?” type of call not a “hey, grandma had something happen and we’re all going up to say goodbye tonight.” type of call.
And that’s where I lost my words.
I started writing this the day before I flew out to see my family after my grandma’s death. It’s now been a week since her funeral.
It hasn’t been easy. It’s been the exact opposite of that but we’ll get through it. She’s in a better place now. And no matter how hard it seems now she would want me to laugh and smile just like I did with her. So that’s what I’m focusing on doing.
That’s what we did the day after her funeral, a couple hours after her burial. We looked through old photos. My grandpa told us silly stories that went along with every photo. And we commented on how amazing 70 years of love is.
Alzheimer’s took my grandma from me years ago. But she left me with so much more.
It still seems that I’m at a loss for words. So instead of trying to come up with new words I’ll just leave you with some old ones. A poem I wrote about my grandma the day I found out she was admitted to the nursing home.
Bring Her a Bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots
(An Alzheimer’s Poem)
Don’t ask her to remember
Don’t ask her to always be there
she will try
and she will fail.
Don’t blame her for leaving you alone.
She never asked for this either.
But what you must do
are all the things
you wanted her to do for you.
even on the days
she only remembers
the worst in you.
Always be there
if not physically
because if this is hard for you
imagine the fear of losing
everything you’ve ever known.
Do know this is
not her fault
this is not yours
this is the path that was chosen
for her to go down
and the same choice could be given to you.
So when you are scared and lonely
look outside the window
into the flower bed beside the house
and see the beauty within the blooming.
For now replace the dying with the living
because to me
are the most beautiful flower
of them all.