2011 - Birthday girls with Grandma

The call came at 3am Wednesday. Grandma is dying. She probably won’t make it through the night. If you want to say your final goodbye, you should come.

The lights at grandma’s house were dim when we arrived, and the air was heavy. Short, labored breaths rattled out of her lungs, sounding like a child with croup. She lay tucked under blankets in a hospital bed in the middle of her living room; my cousin leaning over her, inserting morphine tablets under her tongue to keep her comfortable.

Being on hospice for the past week, the call had not been entirely surprising, though she had been so alert and responsive the prior few days that we had thought it might be weeks until the end.  But here we were, in the middle of the night, beginning our final farewells.  Some family members sat perched on the queen-sized bed near her hospital bed, while others lingered on the couch in the adjoining family room, taking turns leaning over her and whispering words of love and gratitude. Continue reading