I said goodbye to my grandma at Christmas two years ago. She was hooked up to an oxygen tank and I couldn’t help but sob, thinking it would be the last time I’d see her.
She cried along with me, telling me that her constant pain was no way to live. She told me she missed my grandpa and my dad and that she was so anxious to see them again, and I knew at the time she was ready to go.
Except she actually wasn’t. Grandma was always a fighter, and after that Christmas, she lived two more Christmases. Despite her tiny frame and sweet smiles, she lived to a feisty 94 years. I saw her down on all fours barking at her Boston terrier. I witnessed her lecturing my former sister in law, “Don’t you dare lie to Grandma — I know better!” when she tried to hide the fact that she was pregnant with one of my nephews. I saw her cackle with delight with my cousin Megan opened an Easter egg stuffed with a live frog. She was full of life and fire.
But those genetic heart problems that plagued my dad came from her side of the family. She had a heart attack — and six bypasses — the same year my dad had a heart attack and his second open heart surgery. We were told about how my grandpa, completely panicked, drove her to the nearest hospital and nearly through the ER doors to make sure she’d survive. And of course, she did.
The thing is, she buried my grandpa 17 years ago. She buried my dad almost 11 years ago. Her heart had given up. But for me, it feels like the last bit of my dad is now gone. That’s what hurts, even though I know she’s in a better place, finally pain-free after all of these years.
I just wish that thought made it all easier.