At 5:30 am this morning my grandma Natalie, at the age of 82, died in her sleep. She battled Multiple Sclerosis since 1985 and hasn’t walked since at least the early 9os. When she recently got pneumonia, the muscles in her chest and lungs were too weak to fight the infection. Combined with her MS and her older age, even on antibiotics she would be unable to clear the congestion in order to make a recovery. I got to spend her last night on Earth next to her in her hospital bed. She perked up only once that night, when she heard the word “chocolate.” So I gave her her last meal, which consisted of about 5 bites of soft chocolate ice cream. Right as I decided 5 bites were enough, the morphine kicked back in and she closed her eyes. I gave her my final kiss on the cheek and promised her I’d come see her tomorrow. It has been a sad few days seeing her hurting so bad, at times she was even struggling to take a breath. And even though I see this every day in my profession, when its happening to someone you love, you see it much differently.
The love for an immediate family member is much different than the love you chose. The love that a husband and wife have for each other is easy to define. There are set rules: trust, loyalty, respect, common interests, ect. And for the most part, in America, this is a love that is chosen. I chose to marry Will. And out of all the other fish in the sea, he chose me. But the love between a child and a grandparent is much different. Its not as defined. You don’t get to choose who your grandparents are. Some grandparents you love because you were told they existed but you have never met them. Some grandparents may have have raised you and loved you as their own. My grandma Natalie was my real “grandparent experience.” The person who we saw every Sunday after church. She was always around for the good times: summer pool parties, holidays, graduations. She always had candy. She had a sweet swimming pool when she lived in Charlotte. She taught me all the lyrics to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” She loved coffee and cigarettes. She knew what she wanted and when she wanted it. She always praised me to her nursing staff. She loved me. And I loved her very much. I will miss her terribly. And even though I am sad, I am happy that she is not hurting anymore. She is in heaven with her husband, walking tall, singing Frank Sinatra, smoking her Dorell Light cigarettes, and eating all the chocolate she can find.
Blog Title Lyrics: Eric Clapton- Tears in Heaven