Saturday, July 28, 2012

Living through Death

There are all sorts of life-changing events. There is high school graduation, and the moment when you walk across the stage and realize you can conquer the world.

There is the moment you realize the man you are dating is "the one" and you say a resounding YES! to his popped question. 

Of course the day you actually walk down the aisle and say I do, is only shadowed by the day you both realize you are expecting your first child. Words can not express the changes you undergo physically, mentally and spiritually as a result of the birth of your baby. How the miracle of a new life alters yours forever. 

There are changes that come from realizing "the one" wasn't and now you are among the ranks of the divorced single parents. Talk about realizing you don't know shit from shinola. That is life altering.

There are the changes that come with achieving your degrees, having more children, finally finding the one, marrying him and creating a life. Not one you ever thought you would have. 

There are events in a lifetime that alter so absolutely and completely that we are never, ever the same. Death is one of these events. 

Instinctively we know that death changes everything through the absence of someone, and the permanence of it's finality. These changes are obvious in how the living go on about their lives. But it's the little changes that strike me so much more than the obvious ones. 

I know you are probably thinking "where is this coming from and where is she going with this?" I promise I have a point. Just bear with my train of thought.

Three weeks ago my uncle, his wife (my aunt), my cousin and my grandmother arrived here in Deutschland. This was the first time I had seen my grandmother since my grandfather passed last July. It's coming up on a year since his death and the changes I have noticed in her, while subtle, speak volumes of the absence of my grandfather. 

Mind you she is 84 and spent the better part of 64 years with him, but his absence and the reality of death has really changed her, and that saddens me. 

She seems less independent now. Less able to make simple decisions about what to eat, and what to drink. 

She seems unable or unwilling to be alone. Being left in a room alone makes her call out for someone to come sit in the room with her. 

She speaks about times past when she travelled and how much she was able to do. 

She speaks with longing about times with my grandfather and things they did together. 

She still has a memory like an elephant and maybe that makes things harder. I don't know for sure. However she can recall with accuracy all sorts of past events and comments and weird instances in which she visited me at different duty stations. She can even remember details about the homes I have lived in. Things that I can't even remember! But then again, she always had a great memory... so much has changed there. 

She has more aches and pains, and visits the doctor more frequently. I think she worries more about her health. 

She seems more needy now. Perhaps it isn't my grandfather's death and just more the fact that she is getting older. 

She seems displaced and she complained that when her apartment was sold many things were "lost". She complained that people get rid of things or took things. She seemed very agitated and upset that her things were now "missing." I can't imagine being self-sufficient for years and now having to live with your son. 

Perhaps I am the one who is looking for changes since his death. Perhaps I'm just scared that the older she gets, the closer to losing her I get. That is a hard reality to face. 

I know someday I will have to deal with her passing. But for now I am trying to deal with her getting older and frailer. That is scary enough. I just wish there was a way to ease her loneliness and pain at losing her life's companion.

I wish I could ease her pain at living through his death.

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