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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today’s question is:  Something you have to forgive yourself for.
This one is going to be deep, and to be completely honest I’m not even sure I can get through it without tears, but I’m going to try.
My maternal grandmother passed away when my mother was very young, sadly I never got to meet the woman who I look almost exactly like or my maternal grandfather either as he died before my grandmother.  Growing up my my great-grandmother(or mamaw as I called her) was my grandma  and I loved her dearly.  Being the second oldest grandchild I had the chance to spend a few years with both of them before they both eventually passed; my papaw who passed when I was barely 2 and my mamaw who passed when I was 13. 
It was my grandmother who I shared secrets with when I was little and who sat patiently playing in the mud with me watching as I made the best mud pies ever, and who taught me to make cherry pie from scratch—those moments still bring tears to my eyes when I think about them, even all these years later.
When my grandmother died it was a very difficult time for me; several years before she passed my grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer and fought it into remission, but it came back and it came back with a vengeance.  On top of the cancer, that by this time was terminal, my grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years before.  She was different; she didn’t know where she was most days, she didn’t remember her own children, but she did remember me and that spoke volumes about our relationship. 
I still remember the day she passed like it was yesterday.  I remember the family members being called and told that my grandmother would not make it through the night.  I remember the smell of the nursing home as I sat with my uncle and helped watch my younger cousins in the lobby.  I remember the nurse’s voice that echoed: “Code Blue” and my grandmothers room number over the intercom.  I remember standing paralyzed in the hallway by my grandmothers room.  And I remember one by one my mom, my aunts, and cousins walking into my grandmothers room to say “goodbye.  But I couldn’t move, I couldn’t bring myself to see her that way.  I remember my mom telling me that it was ok and knowing that in my gut I couldn’t possibly go in her room.  So I didn’t go in, I didn’t see her finally at peace, no more pain or confusion, I didn’t say goodbye. 
Not saying goodbye to my grandmother that day, or at her visitation a few days later, is something I have never forgiven myself for.  I remember one of my aunts telling me, “You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t go up there and see her and say goodbye.” I hated my aunt for the longest time for saying that to me; I was 13, I had never had to deal with death before and I had just lost someone who had been my whole world for as long as I could remember and I didn’t know how to handle it. 
Looking back I realize that even though I didn’t go into her room that night and even though I didn’t go up to her casket and say “goodbye” I did say goodbye, on my own terms and in a way that I was comfortable with.
I miss my mamaw, sometimes so much that it hurts more than it did then, but I know she watches over me and keeps me safe and doesn’t ever once think of the events of that night!
I love you Mamaw Clara!
By the way this was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to write, but I feel so much better knowing that I did!
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3 comments :

  1. Don't beat yourself up, you were young and we all deal with things the best way we can & the Lord only gives us what we can bare so he bares the rest for us. I too did the same & felt your same guilt for a long time with my mom dieing. She had bone cancer for 7 years and died at age 54 and me the 2nd of 3 daughters at the time I was age 38 (12 yrs ago now for her passing) And the last yr of her bone cancer it spread to her kidneys, and she was told she would pass away in 2-3 weeks most likly in her sleep quitely so she ask her girls to let her go in her home not in hospital so we took her home and we stayed there with her each day talking sharing time caring for her, but her pain became unbearable and lingered into a 3 week time & it so painful for her & her in & out of a coma & the meds we were told to give her did not help & hospice could not even help so we had to take her back to the cancer ward where the best Dr I ever met is the only one who could give her morphin & that did not help, she screamed in a voice I could never imagine but all the while holding her hands to heaven praising the Lord & we were by her side but as the screams were worse & we were drained they suggested we go to the hospice house next door to rest for a few hours and we did while 4 hours later we got a call saying she was gone. I thought I would never forgive myself that we were not there in the room with her, holding her hand, assuring her we loved her, I wondered if she felt alone or that we did not love her. The door was closed as we come to her room & I could not bear seeing her gone knowing I did not see her as she was passing. That haunted me for some long, I prayed for the Lord to forgive me. But he gave me a sense of peace letting me know that mom was ok with him & no longer in pain & then I knew he only let me carry what he knew I could handle. I miss her today as though it were yesterday, but I know she is with the Lord & angels in heaven & I know I will see her again and that peaceful thought now overtides all the others I were in doubt about. Sorry for this long post comment but know your mamaw does watch over you & knows you love her. I'm a mamaw myself now & I know my young grandson will remember all our good times and know how much I loved him when I'm gone, & thats how it should be. The things we learn in life as we get older are what makes us stronger & the Lord guides you as he has now, even writing your feelings is a way he has guided you to coop, memories of your good times is what will see you through. God Bless you >Julie
    sewitupjulie at gmail dot com

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  2. Thank you SO much for that comment! It meant so much to me to know that 1. I am not alone. and 2. That someone else would share such a personal and moving story with me to make me see that it is/will be alright! Your comment made me smile and realize that we all make mistakes (or do things that we shouldn't. don't want to do) but in the end it will be alright!

    Thank you!

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  3. I don't think anyone should make children feel bad by saying something like that. Kids all deal with death in their own way and if you weren't ready to look it right in the eye like that then that's okay.
    I know when my mom passed away at my home after slowing dying from multiple strokes, the family came to my home while we waited for the funeral home to come. Everyone went in to say their goodbyes except for my nephew. None of us made him go in to see her. He wasn't ready to do that.
    Don't beat yourself up for that. I'm sure she would tell you that the time you had together when she was still a vibrant person was what she would have you focus and remember, not the last moments.

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