This weekend did not end how it was starting. Saturday the parents, myself, and Andy were getting situated in the car to go to the wine festival when my mother received a phone call about an emergency at my Mamaw’s house (that’s what I call my grandmother on my mother’s side). We thought that she may have fallen again and that my Aunt (Chrissy), who lives with her, should have made mention something was up instead of just randomly asking to watch her on Saturday. If you think something is wrong, tell us so we can take care of it, or we are just going to think that you want more time to hang out with your friends as always when your responsibilities are elsewhere – that is a story too long for this, but you get the point.
We make our way to the house as fast as we can and arrive on a scene of police officiers, paramedics, neighbors, and Chrissy completely a wreck (she was devastated and felt like she was to blame for not being at the house when it happened). No sign of my Mamaw. My parents tell me to stay in the car with Andy as they walk up to the house, my mother getting inside the house first and my father being stopped by a neighbor. It was if things were going in slow motion as I watched the conversation between Diane and my father through the window… I already knew what was going on even though no one had said a thing to me yet – she was gone.
Feeling anxious in those short seconds made me leave the car because instinctively I knew something was wrong, very wrong. My aunt’s best friend Debbie had cut me off getting on the porch to relay the news to me and to why my dad wanted me to stay in the car. I had to walk away. I couldn’t really believe what was being said to me. I collapsed on the back of my parent’s SUV as I tried to fight the tears – Andy being there to comfort me.
I regained my composure as I was being called by my sobbing Aunt Chrissy to the porch to come inside the house, amidst waves of “I’m so sorry” as I walked into the house, past everyone who was there to my mother and father standing inside talking to police officers and paramedics. They were explaining what was the most probable cause of death – either another stroke or a heart attack (to which doctors did warn us of the high possibility of another 2 years ago with her first). Though what I remember most about walking in to the house was the smell. I can’t really describe it, but I can only assume it is what death would smell like. I could see her body down the hallway, covered only in a blanket, lying on the ground lifeless – I couldn’t look away any time I passed around in the house and even when the coroners took her away, I kept finding myself staring at the hallway. I close my eyes to sleep and that is all I see.
Saturday was like everything you see on tv or in movies when someone passes away and the family makes their way to the house. Seeing my Aunt Linda arrive from Stafford with my two other cousins while Debbie walked up to tell her the news before she got too close to the house – the look of anguish in her face, the pleading that it wasn’t true…just everything about it didn’t seem real – like we were all in a bad episode of a daytime soap opera. My other cousin and her children arrived as well, but the worst one in that group was Aisha – my Mamaw was practically her best friend, even though she was her grandmother. Aisha was practically raised in that house by her mother and my Mamaw (or Nunny as she called her). Devastation could only describe how she felt – she was so sick that night.
I didn’t really cry too much the rest of the day and Sunday, as Andy and I had to keep an eye on my aunt (who had to be taken to the hospital the previous night due to a spike in blood pressure that could have been harmful and she needed something to sedate her). Robin, a friend of my mother’s and to our family, came by the house to help us take care of her – who was not handling this situation very well. My parents and my Aunt Linda went to the airport to pick up my mother’s other sister, Aunt Lisa and her kids Megan and Kevin. I’m thankful the police officer on the job yesterday came back to see how Chrissy was doing and the family, as well as the neighbors. It helped get Chrissy’s mind off of the sadness and think more of fond memories. We finally got her to eat and she finally got some form of sleep in the afternoon right before Lisa and the kids arrived. By 5pm, I had to get back on the road to Norfolk to for classes today (which due to events last night I skipped).
I guess being strong for everyone was what kept me together back home, but the drive back to Norfolk was the worse. I would hear a song on the radio and just start to cry. I made it back to Andy’s house to sleep for the night because I didn’t want to be alone and cried. We decided to go to bed and as I was laying down to sleep, I couldn’t help by just cry. I broke down. I could be so strong in front of others, but being by myself is when I am vulnerable. I knew Andy had duty the next day, but I couldn’t help the sobbing and convulsing that followed my every breath. He laid there next to me,my body wrapped around his, stroking my hair to calm me to sleep. I’m not sure when I finally stopped crying and fell asleep (thanks to a sleep pill he gave me just in case I couldn’t sleep) – it was good to have him there for me.
I’ll be going back to Woodbridge on Thursday after my American Lit. class for the memorial service. I will be reading scripture for it. My Mamaw is going to be cremated – since I’m assuming we got the okay for her body to be donated to science (which is what she wanted because she said “she had so many different problems” and they might look at what Dementia does to the brain). As slightly morbid as it sounds, cause I don’t know how others think of this sort of thing, but we’re getting cremation necklaces for her ashes. I’m getting one myself to be a constant reminder of her strength and hard working attitude in life, among other things.
Here’s to teaching me many things, including my first cuss word – dammit (cause that’s what you say when you can’t put on your socks).
I love you Mamaw and I know you’ll always be with us.
Our loss, Heaven’s gain.
I saw this rainbow as I was driving back to Norfolk. It wasn’t until a friend pointed it out, but it’s a double rainbow too. Guess she was trying to make me smile when I didn’t feel like it.