The nurse behind the desk pointed out my grandmum's room. "737, bed two."
My Mom, brothers, and I shuffled past the first bed occupied by a sleeping elder woman. Her husband sat close by reading a book. He wore a mask and when he looked up at us... I've never seen such raw hopelessness.
At the dividing curtain, I heisitated. Mom had told us before we entered the hospital that Grandma would look different; that her illness had taken a toll. I was afraid. I was afraid to see what was behind the curtain. I can't remember if I whispered a prayer or asked for strength from the Lord without thinking, but I followed my family past the the cloth divider. I promised I wouldn't cry.
My aunt sat next to the bed holding Grandma's hand.
Grandma was always a little woman, "five foot two with eyes of blue" as the saying went. But what she lacked in stature, she more than made up for in iron will and selflessness. Now laying in the hospital bed, her form was frail, all but swallowed up by the stark white sheets. Her eyes were closed from weariness. The doctors had given her some sort of breathing mask to help her lungs rid themselves of carbon dioxide.
My aunt gave my elder brother her chair that he might hold Grandma's hand.
"It's August," she whispered.
Grandmum's eye flickered open for a moment and she smiled briefly. "Hi, August," she breathed, it was a great effort to speak at all. But what I noticed at once was her eyes: they no longer had the Irish smile, or sparkle. I had never known that spark to go out. Not in Grandma's eyes.
I promised I wouldn't cry, I reminded myself, turning quickly to the window. Below I could see the parking lot. Pigeons flew all over. Should have brought a slingshot, I thought, trying not to listen to "You Raise Me Up" now playing softly on the small stereo next to the bed. My aunt was talking to Mom about the doctor's last orders.
A nurse came in and checked Grandma's vital signs.
I took August's place and held her hand. It was small and frail, but it was the same hands that had taught me to paint, that had placed band-aids on my scuffed knees, held my own when I was small. And now here she was, hardly able to speak, slowly wasting away before my own eyes.
I never knew heartbreak was so literal.
I feel as if I'm standing on the edge of a cliff; below me is the sea of grief, behind me, the valley of joy - the way things used to be. I stand looking at the Father wondering what He will say. Will He allow my grandma to get well and let me go back to the valley? Or will He call her Home, sending me below to the sea until time dulls the pain of loss and I may go into new fields of life.
I wait for what seems eternity. I know that whatever He may choose, it is and can only be, the best for my grandma.
But the waiting...
His will be done.
Please pray for my whole family. ~Gwyn