My Grandmother

by Kristina
(Michigan)

My grandmother and I had a very special and unique bond. I was her only granddaughter. She was more than a grandmother to me; she was one of my best and closest friends. We did everything together. I stayed with her on the weekends to spend as much time with her as I could. I helped her do her shopping and her errands; I would go to church with her and help fold the bulletins. We played golf, played cards, crocheted, watched old movies, and talked for hours on end.

I remember when my parents told me that she had a tumor. I was fifteen years old and I had already been thinking that my grandma was getting older. I was becoming afraid of losing her and how it would happen. When I heard about the tumor, my first thought was, "Is this how I'm going to lose Grandma?" My parents assured me that she was going to be fine, that she'd have the surgery and she'd get through this quickly.

The biopsy came back positive. She had stage 2C ovarian cancer. But we tried to stay as positive about it as we could. She went through a chemotherapy treatment that lasted about three months. Her counts looked normal and the doctor put her in remission. Six months later it came back. Another round of chemo for three months, and another chance at remission. When six months had come and gone, we thought we'd really beat the cancer this time and that she'd live another ten years at least.

Two years later, the doctors found another tumor. This time, the chemo was more aggressive; when we asked how long she would need to stay on it, the doctors told us it would be indefinite. They couldn't operate on the tumor; the best they could do at that point was to try to keep the cancer under control and help her live a more normal life. Still, we tried to stay positive, hoping and praying for a miracle.

Except for the fact that she was more tired and stayed closer to home instead of going out like she used to, Grandma seemed just as normal as ever. She was still happy and had a great attitude and loved to talk to us and watch movies with us and keep living life the way she always did.

Things kept getting worse. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had to have surgery to remove the fluid building up around her heart and lungs. Breathing became more and more difficult for her. Eventually she had to have oxygen twenty-four hours a day. She stayed home all the time and barely got up out of her chair.

When she decided to stop her treatment, my parents and I decided to stay with her. Our first morning there with her, I woke up to my parents yelling at her to wake up. She had collapsed and wasn't responding to anyone.

We all knew what was coming but were hoping that by some miracle it just wouldn't happen. The doctor told us what we feared the most: she was failing.

I went back with my mother to see her; she had trouble speaking and was barely able to acknowledge my mother. But when I told her how much I loved her, she said as clear as day, "I love you too, Kris."

The doctor told us she might have three days left. She died that afternoon.

The first few weeks after her death, all I could think about was her. I felt so much despair at what I didn't have anymore. I wore her sweaters and her crucifix. I talked about her all the time. I became almost obsessive of keeping reminders of her with me everywhere I went. I had such vivid dreams of death and of her. I stopped caring about everything: what people thought of me, what I ate, how I did in school. I became a very angry, bitter, and mean person. I became more spiteful; when people at school would start making mean comments about anyone, I would shoot back at them with just as hurtful a remark. I ate so many fatty, greasy, sugary, unhealthy foods thinking that I just wanted to speed up death. I argued with my family and with my boyfriend so much; I was ruining some of the most important relationships I had. I was angry at God for so long, blaming Him for everything that happened. Especially since three weeks after my grandmother's death, her sister (who had been like another grandmother to me) had a stroke which turned out to be a brain tumor. Three months later, she died.

I felt as if I was losing my family. My brother had left for Navy boot camp, which made me feel even more alone. Three months after my aunt's death, one of my mother's cousins died from liver cancer. Another three months passed and someone committed suicide at my school. All I could think of was, "How can all of this be happening? How can we possibly handle three deaths in the family? How could someone willingly take his own life?"

I had become obsessed with death in a way. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was so afraid that everyone in my family was going to die and that I'd be the only one left and alone. Seeing funeral homes, caskets, cemeteries, and hearses whether we drove past them, saw them at someone's funeral, or saw them in a movie was like a slap in the face and a horrible reminder of everything that happened. I constantly made myself mourn and grieve. I wanted to feel sad and lonely and inconsolable. I wanted to cry and sob and never stop because I was afraid I would forget her. I was afraid that if I stopped being sad and lonely that I would be betraying her.

Slowly, I was able to recover from it. I still think about her constantly and I still cry whenever I hear her favorite songs or think back over our memories. So many things remind me of her. I feel as though no matter where I go, I will always have a reminder of her. But they are not always sad reminders. Some of them bring me joy and comfort and peace. I have come to realize that I should not have blamed God for everything; even though she is still gone, I have realized that through all my grief and pain, God never left my side. He never abandoned me; He was a shoulder to cry on, a beacon of light, and a fountain of peace when I desperately needed one. I am dealing with my anger and bitterness. I miss her so much though. It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since her death. And it still hurts to think that life still goes on, even without her in it. All I can do is move forward; but I will always carry her with me.

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