Sunday, May 18, 2008

The women in this family...we come

The days all ran together, one into the other, this week. One week ago, it was Mother’s Day. It feels like it’s been a month.

On Tuesday night, my mom called to say that she was headed to my grandparents for the night. Grandma had called her in a bit of panic. At 6:00, Grandpa told her that he was going to bed and that she could wake him up Friday for his test (he had a CT scan scheduled).

Grandma was worried he was never going to wake up, that he was going to die that night, and she didn’t want to be alone in the house when that happened. So, she called my mom, and my mom called me. I didn't tell my mom I was coming because I didn't want to hear all the, "Oh, honey you don't have to do that" bullshit. But, I was packing before we even hung up. I drove to the turnpike, set the cruise control at 87 mph, and two hours later, I was standing at my grandma’s back door. My mom simply smiled and said, "I knew you'd come. I told your dad, She's on her way. He asked how I knew. I said, Because the women in this family...we come."

For the next few hours, Grandma and my mom and I sat in the in my grandma's living room, the garage light streaming through the windows. We talked about Grandpa and, well…shit, now I don’t really remember what else. We laughed a lot. We cried a little.

At about 11:30, three hours after her normal bedtime, Grandma went to bed. She had considered going to bed, tried to go to bed twice before then. She couldn’t stop talking, didn’t want to be alone in bed next to Grandpa with her thoughts. But, eventually, exhaustion took her.

My mom and I talked another hour, and then she went to sleep in the room she grew up in. I crawled under a throw blanket and lay down on the couch. I lay there and stared at the red leaves on the bush outside the living room window. I thought about how short this night was. Too short. I wanted to stop time right there. To lay on that couch with my grandparents and my mom sleeping down the hall. To make that quiet stillness hold us a while longer. Things were moving too fast.

Two hours later, my cell phone alarm went off, reminding me to drive back across the state and round on patients. My grandma was waiting for me when I woke up. She watched me gather my things, waited for me as I went to the bathroom to wet my hair, and then walked me to the back door. She apologized again for panicking when it seemed as though Grandpa was probably fine for now. And, she wanted to know if I thought she would be okay when he wasn’t.

She said, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I know I’ll be really sad for a really long time, probably forever. But, I think that I will be okay. You think I’ll be okay, right?”

“Yes. I think you’ll be okay,” I said. I was standing on her back steps, one step above her. I kissed the top of her head, something I’ve never done before. She walked me to my car, told me not to talk to strangers, and waved me off into the dark.

It was 4:00 in the morning by the time I left. I drove until 5:00, when the turnpike Starbucks open, and stopped for espresso. It did little to energize me. In fact, I’ve been exhausted since.

The story of the rest of the week, the week at work, will have to wait. It was incredibly infuriating and frustrating and amazing and rewarding—in short, it was completely draining. I hope to get to it tomorrow. No promises, though, okay?


MmeBenaut said...

You are amazing, Terroni, to drive all that way and back again and just keep on working. Your grandmother and mother must have been overjoyed to see you. Three generations of women together is always incredible, particularly when a loved one is dying. There is a strong bond of continuity even in the face of death. I hope that you managed to get some rest during the week little one. I'm looking forward to hearing more, when you're feeling up to it.

.j.william. said...

that's an amazing story of love and family. You should seriously consider publishing it.

It's just me... said...

You and your family are amazing. I love you and I want to borrow your relatives occasionally. Need (another) sister?

nina said...

you continue to bring me into your moments... you are amazing.


Shan said...

I agree with j. william, you and Maria can really express feelings and emotional situations perfectly. I'm sorry you are going through this difficult time.

Alice Kildaire said...

The women in my family are the same way. We don't generally all get along well, but when something happens, none of that matters anymore and all the women's comforting.

Anonymous said...

That's a wonderful story.

Maria said...

Wow. Just wow....and I am not one bit surprised.