Saturday, February 12, 2005

17 months is too long to be apart from the person that you love.

My Nanna died yesterday. 17 months, to the day, after my Pa died. They had been together for almost 59 years and they were kept apart for 17 months. The world works in strange ways huh?

I got a phonecall at 10:30 yesterday morning from my mum, who is in Tasmania at the moment for work. She told me that my nan was semi conscious and that the nursing staff at the nursing home didn't think she'd last the day. My aunt and I went and sat with her. I think she was already halfway to heaven at that time. She seemed calm and peaceful and without pain. I can't explain the experience of watching someone's condition deteriorate so rapidly. We watched her breathing go from being reasonably regular, to the breaths being more erratic and shallow. She took these shallow breaths and you'd almost hold your breath until she took the next one. Each time there was this big gap my aunt and I would look at each other thinking (and hoping) that this would be the last. But another one followed. As distressing as this was for us, it didn't seem to distress her. Her body was just doing what bodies do.

I sat with her most of the day, from11 til about 4:45, then one of Nanna's close friends picked me up and drove me to work. We had it planned that I would come back after work and sit with her while my aunt went for a sleep. But at about 10 I got a phone call at work telling me that she had died. Nanna's friend came back and got me and I went back to the nursing home to say goodbye. I didn't want them to put her body in a holding room so I made the choice to sit with her body until "the man in the van" came to get her.

It was so hard to see this lifeless shell left on the bed. Once she'd gone her body just stopped looking like her. It was like looking at a wax model. She just wasn't there anymore. She'd finally gone to be with Pa.

At 12:20 this morning the funeral directors came and they put her body in a maroon body bag and they took it away. I was there to give her a guard of honour. It was the very least that she deserved.

So that's it. It's all over, aside from the funeral next week. We have been waiting for this time for more than 18 months, since she was diagnosed with her heart condition, and now that the time has come it just doesn't seem real. Nothing seems real. The world has lost a brilliant woman and most people will never know about it.

The hardest bit about it all though isn't her dying. It was watching a clever, witty and brilliant woman, who completed both the quick crossword and the cryptic crossword every day, become a confused and distressed little old lady, just like the rest of them there in the nursing home. If I am truly honest, I'd have to say that she really hasn't been with us for at least the last week. And that's a truly heart breaking thing.

It's all over.

I miss her already.


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