Monday, October 25, 2010
But once at the hospital, she went downhill more rapidly than anyone expected.
Driving to see her tonight had a surreal quality to it. I hadn't been to visit because I wasn't sure if having all the kids around would be helpful. I thought I'd wait for her to stabilize and then go see her. As we drove to the hospital, though, it seemed I wouldn't get the chance to even say goodbye.
But when we walked into her room, Aaron spoke to her and she responded. Her eyes were shut and her lips moved. The noise she made was a restless murmuring, but we were sure she knew we were there. At one point she opened her eyes. Aaron and I were standing right over her and she actually smiled at us.
A few minutes later, Aaron's parents and sister arrived. They'd taken a short break to eat dinner. When we told them about the smile, my father-in-law was shocked. He was sure she'd slipped out of consciousness for good.
But sure enough, as the evening progressed, she had moments of lucidity. As we were leaving, I held my two-year-old Sophie up to give Grandma a kiss. Grandma opened her eyes when she felt the kiss on her forehead and breathed, "Thank you."
I don't know what will happen. Grandma Helen is one tough lady. She may yet surprise us by bouncing back. But I'm thankful for tonight in any case, that we had the chance to gather around her and let her know how much she means to us.
Tonight -- that smile, that kiss, that thank you -- was a gift.
Now go and remind someone you love how much you love them. Because that's always a lesson imminent death teaches us: not to cling to today, but to make the most of it.