Experiencing loss together

My grandfather fell Tuesday and broke his hip. He had surgery on Wednesday, and I was told he did well. I wanted my daughter to finish her swim class, so I drove down today after she got her certificate. I wanted to see him. Father’s Day is Sunday. This man helped raise me. Earlier this year at a family reunion he announced in front of the other children and grandchildren that I was his “favorite.” It is offensive he said this where they had to hear it, but he has dementia. We have to forgive him for the things he says, but how it warmed my heart to hear him say that. To know that I’m someone’s “favorite.” Even someone who is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s. I felt like it was true. I felt so loved in that moment. I have to imagine that my sweet grandmother has probably grown weary telling him about his grandchildren…. Reminding him over and over of cherished stories. His home is filled with family photos, but bless his heart, his vision has gotten so bad, he can barely see. My grandmother is so strong, but it must be hard to care for someone in his condition. He should not be allowed to go home after rehab. My family should make arrangements for him to go to a facility. My heart is breaking tonight because I know what a caliber of a man he is and was, and it just does not seem fair for him to have to experience these pains of aging. I don’t feel like he deserves to lose his memory or his eyesight. I don’t feel it’s fair for him to be in that hospital bed recovering from a broken hip and surgery. He has excruciating pain when he moves, so he hasn’t moved or been moved. So now he has a bad bed sore on his bottom. They will be sending a wound care specialist to treat it. It’s almost unbearable to see him in this condition. I love him so much. I want to stay with him and take care of him. My eyes pour tears in sorrow. But when he isn’t affected by pain meds he still has a fun sense of humor. He is a joy to be around, despite the disease, because his comments are hilarious, and he laughs right along with you. I bought him a couple cards. He used to cover the walls of his office with greeting cards he received from family. One card was a “get well soon” with felt, fuzzy chicks on the front wearing sunglasses. The inside said, “I thought some warm fuzzies would help you feel better.” The other card was a moving, singing Hawaiian bobble doll that came alive when you open the card. The front asked him how a Hawaiian vacation sounded for Father’s Day… The inside said, “that sounds about right!”, and it played cheerful music. He opened the card several times to hear the sound and seemed entertained with both cards. I left this evening when he talked about going in the other room to sleep. My aunts and uncle have been taking turns spending the night at the hospital with him. I went up there prepared to stay, should they need me, but his firstborn son had already committed to staying. I’m looking forward to hugging my family tomorrow. I need a hug after seeing him tonight. Going to the hospital today, the same one I was at this time 4 years ago when my mother passed away. And 3 short months later my oldest cousin passed away. The same hospital my mother worked at for most of my childhood, in the town where I was born and raised. So many emotions are heavy upon me tonight. I lost two best friends last week because of secrets and vengeance. And the pain of losing a friendship hits harder when you experience a relative who has been hospitalized, and you can’t talk to those friends about it. Friends who know you inside and out and know exactly how you must be feeling. So instead you write about it in hopes someone out there might read it one day and share the moment with you, so you’re not going through it alone. I called my husband before I even left the hospital. My husband, who has loved me through secrets and shame, and still professes to always love me no matter what. My husband, who wants so desperately to be more than enough for me. He wants to be my lover, my husband, my best friend. But there is that person who knows you, understands you, better than you know yourself, in a way a man can’t ever understand because he’s not a woman, in a way that no human should be that good at understanding another person, and yet you can’t make the relationship work because it became romantic and threatens your marriage. So you try not to be defined by it, but you are stuck in THAT place. So you have to know that as much as your husband possibly can offer support and understanding in this moment, he has tried with his whole heart, because he loves you so much. In realization of that, you have to forget about the comfort you used to feel from having a female soulmate/friend because that relationship cannot exist anymore. You cry for the loss of youth your grandfather has to endure, and you cry for the loss of companionship you are having to endure. At least all is not lost. You still have your marriage and your family, and your grandfather still has his life. These things have not yet been taken from us. But they are inevitably a part of life, and it will only be a matter of time before we lose all things to the end. Letting go gracefully isn’t something I’ve witnessed much in my life, but I feel it’s something I have to learn on my own this time. Having a friend to go through so many of life’s tragedies with you, so many goodbyes, so many milestones, accomplishments, first-time experiences – letting go of that is not something that is easy to do. I’m being gentle and kind to myself through the process. I’m allowing myself to feel the full range of emotions during all of life’s situations, so I can let them go. Once I’ve acknowledged them and felt them, I can release them. I can’t ignore them or deny the difficulty of letting go and saying goodbye. It hurts because it matters to me. Recognizing the significance of these things in my life is caring for myself. I may not always have someone in my life who cares about the things I go through, but I have to be thankful for the ones who are still there. And I have to love myself through all my mistakes, through all the losses I experience and have to see my loved ones go through. I hope that I can be a comfort to others as they experience loss as well.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.