After she was diagnosed in August with lung cancer which had spread to the brain and just finishing 15 days of radiation to the brain a few weeks ago I thought I had time. At least a few months. Time to talk, listen, and learn from such an amazing woman. Time to get used to the fact that she wasn't going to be there forever. That time has come much too soon. It was only last Sunday that I took her to church, and while frail and slower, she was still my Grandma...that strong, feisty, wonderful woman that I have looked up to my whole life.
Then Friday happened. One of my aunts noticed that she seemed confused and was stumbling on words. By nightfall she was barely able to walk. Saturday she got worse. Sunday she couldn't talk nor walk. Sunday is when her family gathered around her to say their goodbyes, as it could be any hour now.
I didn't get there until early afternoon when she was beyond exhausted. I rubbed her leg and cried like a baby as I said my goodbye to her. She was drifting in and out of sleep so I wonder if she was even aware I was there...and it's okay if she wasn't, I don't know if I will see her on this earth again and needed to just see her. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.
But she is. As I watched the priest give her the Last Rites I could see the peace surround her. As he gave her Communion she smiled a huge smile. Father said to her "You're happy, aren't you?" and she continued to smile while nodding 'yes'. She's happy and content and ready to go be with the loved ones which she has lost. Her grandparents, parents, miscarried children and grandchildren, and most of all her husband. I wonder, watching the peace that she displayed, if she possibly already has one foot in heaven while the other foot is still here with us.
Watching this brave, self-less (she did raise 10 children, after all) woman, I also realized where this peace must come from as she leaves this world. I doubt that she can have many, if any, regrets for the way she lived her life. She did things by the book...and in this case I mean The Book. Having that type of peace at the end is something that I can only hope for. Being surround by a houseful of children and grandchildren (and even great-grandchildren) shows what type of person she is and what type of legacy she will leave behind. Seeing her children rally around her and care for her with such care and compassion and overwhelming love shows what type of mother she is. Watching her friend take her hands and thank her for being such a good friend shows how many hearts she has touched.