Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 25 July 2013

My "Perfect" Life - Part 9

My Grandmother's passing - I don't usually call it passing but rather 'death', though perhaps that word is too blunt for some. When my grandmother died it was the end of an era, the loss of my best friend, time to move on.

I've mentioned before in this blog how much I valued my grandmother. I think perhaps it was most because she valued me. I think she valued anyone she met, but each of us probably felt unique and special because of her. She could make you feel that way.

I only ever remember arguing with her once. I was sad about something and she said I had no right to be sad. Well, that incensed me because how could I not be entitled to my feelings? But I came around to understand her point of view - eventually. Her point was simply I could not have what I wanted and as I had no right to it, I had no right to feel loss either. There is some logic in that, though it doesn't sit well even now with my world view that we are all entitled to our feelings.

Anyway, I began by talking about her passing.

She lived to 89. She died owning and caring for her own home. She popped in and out of hospital a few times during the last few years, but never for long and always to recover. She never broke a hip or had a stroke - nothing of the usual aging process. And in the end, a tea toteler, she died from sclerosis of the liver (or related complications).

During her last hospital stay, my mother called me one evening and said Grandma was very poorly. My lip quivering like a child's (I was 29), I said I'd fly home on the weekend to see her.

My mother then painted a plane picture, though with kindness and gentleness.

"She isn't the same," she said. "She's in a lot of pain," she conveyed. Though Grandma was evidently past speaking, her pain was apparent. "I think you have to let her go," she said at last, and I knew it must be so.

I wonder how many people feel that, at a time when someone is dying, they hold on for the sake of a loved one until the loved one is ready to accept the end must come? I believe both my mother and I recognized this in my Grandmother's passing. Grandma knew I wasn't ready so she was holding on for me.

I hung up the phone and prayed, and then I accepted I'd never see her again. It was only hours later that my mother called to say she was gone.

A few months later, at a wedding, I went for a walk in the night air. And while I didn't go far and could still hear the music from the banquet hall, more I felt my grandmother's presence with me. That doesn't rest with me theologically; that I might get a message from the 'other side' is just not right, but I knew I felt loss and peace at the same time, and accepted she was gone.

I suppose I haven't too many people that I've lost. But it is never easy, no matter how intimate or how distant the person, is it? I've lost family members to old age and friends to cancer. I know people who have lost a child -- some have recovered from it, others I'm still praying for. But for me the deepest loss was my grandmother, because she was a joy and a pleasure to be around and a friend when I had no other.

I don't choose to mourn any longer or to regret, but I am grateful for what I had in my fun and loving grandma, and I aspire to be like her in some way: to reach toward others and to laugh in their midst.
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