23 August, 2012

The Coming of an Ending

This evening my grandmother discovered that she is going to die. 
We all know that one day, we know not when, we will die.  Our lives will end in one way or another.  To my knowledge, this is a known fact - each of us will die. 
For some, this is a frightening thought.  Most of us probably don't think about it much because it is the unknown and we are really too busy to consider something so abstract and distant.  Others, like those with cancer, at some point come to terms with the reality that they could or will die - the cancer or other illness makes it that much more real; it moves it from the abstract to the finite. 
My grandmother is 91.  She is the last living member of her childhood family.  She has six great grandchildren - or eight, depending  on how she counts and four or five grandchildren... and she has traveled the world and enjoyed a full and challenging life. 
In the next few days, she will consider the possibilities  of treatment that may or may not be effective and for only a short period of time.  Or she will look at the option of doing nothing, getting tired, and letting go. 
She is fortunate in that what she has will end her life with no physical pain involved; just increasingly tired. 
Facing mortality is not something easily done for many.  It is difficult to wrap our minds and thoughts around the idea that we are here today and there is ... nothing tomorrow.  It is the question of what happens when we die?Do we just... die?  The coming to terms with the choices that we have made; the life we have lived; and the outcomes. 
Until recently, I have lived my life very much aware of potentially not having tomorrow.  I am not sure why I elected to take this idea to heart at an early age, but I did.  And it could be a product of not knowing when or if I would be blind at some point.  I might not have tomorrow; there might not be another chance to see  .  I  learned to consider my heart quickly to know that the choices I made were those that were in keeping with my soul because there wouldn't be reason, time, or energy for regret. 
If you feel it, say it... live fully in each moment because there really, really, might not be another.  Don't wait to find out who you are tomorrow or decide to live your dreams next year - just do it - No time like the present. 
And yet, considering the reality of death - of the situation  in which my grandmother finds herself, I wonder if I really live as completely and totally as possible?
My grandmother is at peace with the choice she has made; my mom is at peace with the decision.  They will spend the next few months sharing moments together and talking or sitting in silence; probably coming to terms with the challenges that have long been an aspect of their mother-daughter relationship.
I will learn from the choices made and remember the way I chose to live my own life years ago... and use this as a time to consider choices made and being made, a time to start unwrapping the layers and finding what lies beneath and within myself. 


LesleyG said...

I'm sorry to read the news. No matter when it comes, it's never simple or made easier. You are right in that it can be made more peaceful, though, and part of that just has to be due to the way we choose to live today, each day.
Much love to you and yours.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE .. not an easy time .. yet your grandmother and mother seem to have their attitude to life under wonderful control, which gives them peace and tranquillity at such a time ..

My mother gained her inner peace during these last five years of her life after her strokes and she at 91 passed away recently .. I wrote a tribute to her in early July ...

My only thoughts and suggestion are that you and your daughter are there too .. I hope this is possible - particularly you to share your memories with them, to ask questions, and to learn the lessons of life that you will take on board during this last journey of your grandmother .. and be there for your mother.

My thoughts are with you - Hilary

BigLittleWolf said...

I am sorry to hear about your grandmother, TE. Grandparents hold a special place in our hearts, for many of us.

As to the delicate issues of facing mortality, I think it's easier for some and harder for others. I think our culture makes both aging and dying seem less "natural" and of course, both are exactly that, barring tragic circumstances.

My own grandfather, in his 90s, more or less worn out but otherwise managing, simply went to sleep one night and didn't wake up - to the best of my knowledge. I always has the feeling he was simply ready to go.

that was about 20 years ago. I somewhat understood it at the time. I do understand it nnow.

Scorpy said...

I'm sorry to hear this news. I have recently seen my mother through three months of hospital and eleven operations. She is finally at home and I am very grateful that she is...but throughout the ordeal I had to try and face the fact that she may not be coming home...I couldn't do it.
PS: I stumbled across a tribute post you did of my blog and that led me here. I really need to start writing again. I'm still single, sadly, and writing was something I loved doing. I do a lot of photography now and maybe I should start posting about that. I never did get that photo you promised haha