My heart is heavy; my eyes red and filled with tears. My soul is conflicted, as is my mind. I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight, one that I was not planning to make for a long time, and one that I have such mixed emotions over. It was only a week and a half ago that you were taken to the hospital, where you walked in, but never out of. The dizzy spells and blackouts occurring for a few days and you didn’t know why. The first thing we were told is that your medication levels were too high, as you had lost about 40 pounds in the last month after breaking your arm. Then we were told you had a stroke. After more tests, it turned into “stroke-like” symptoms and 3 spots were found on your brain All that from Saturday to Monday. Tuesday was a different story. Tuesday was cancer.
The spots on your brain were in fact cancer, and it was also in your lungs; lungs that 5 weeks ago were clear in your x-rays. I spent all day, well the last few days actually, crying and full of questions. One night we got to speak on the phone but it wasn’t really you; you were speaking non-sense and didn’t know who I was. That was so hard to take. After more tests, the cancer was found in you lungs, brain, liver and spine, and was growing rapidly. How was this happening and why so fast? I immediately booked a flight and have been waiting and waiting to leave, the days feeling like months, and I hear daily updates on how your condition continues to deteriorate, not sure I will make it on time.
You decided you were done fighting and are ready to go. You seem at peace. I don’t know if I could or would if it were me. The times I have had with you seem like fleeting memories of long ago, that have flown by. Life is too short.
You were discharged back home on Saturday with hospice care. A hospital bed was set up in the living room, in place of your favorite chair. Decisions need to be made if you will remain at home or go to a facility. I was told the last few days have been “bad”. You are more agitated and not sleeping. You can’t walk, can’t talk much, and now have to have a catheter placed. I was asked not to call the last 2 days. I have a limited idea of what I will be walking into later tonight. I am so thankful that I will be able to see you and spend a short bit of time with you, but I don’t know how I will react to seeing you this way; frail and weak, confined to a hospital bed, with a broken arm, barely able to move or speak and dependent on others for your care, bravely facing death. Can I really be that strong? Can I handle this? How can I best support my family and you? You have always been the strong one, and now our roles are reversed. I know that I just need the courage to take the first step. No matter what happens next, know that I love you so much and you have been such a blessing in my life and a great role-model. You have loved me, guided me, taught me, laughed with me, cried with me, and were always there. I’m just sorry I haven’t been there as much for you. Please, please, please just hold on until I get there so I can tell you all of this in person. I love you!
**I wrote this letter to my grandfather on 4/14/10 as I waited to board my plane from California to Florida. I arrived that night and he was still alive. I had a few moments where he was lucid and recognized me and I got to tell him everything before he went out of consciousness. He passed away on 4/19/10 peacefully, in his sleep, at home, just as he had wanted.**
Here is a picture of me with my grandparents taken in June 2007