Oct 31, 2017

The Circle of Life

I don't know quite what I want to say today.  We visited my grandmother, who is dying, and who specifically requested to see everyone one more time before she goes.  She wanted to meet her great grandson, so Orion and I, along with my parents, flew out to California for 4 days, said our goodbyes, and then flew home.

It was hard.  Hard emotionally, hard physically, hard logistically.  My stress levels were through the roof.  But we held it together and did our best to respect my grandmother's wishes and get through it with smiles on our faces.  We were there to celebrate our last opportunity to have time together, not to mourn that that time is ending.

And I'm so grateful that we had the forewarning to be able to do that.  Talking to my dad about it, he seemed absolutely horrified by the idea of being given 30 days to live by a doctor.  I, obviously, don't know how I would react, but conceptually it sounds better to have that time to get your affairs in order and do all the things you want to do.

We thought about what we'd do with that time, if we had just 30 days to live.  And my first thought was books, junk food, and relaxing.  My sister's was trying all the drugs now that you don't have to worry about damaging your body, which I found intriguing, but ultimately I think I'd enjoy the books and chocolate more.

We also talked about the circle of life, Lion King style.  Seeing the sharp contrast of Orion, 9 months old and blissfully unaware of what was going on, sitting on Nana's lap.  He'd inevitably go for the oxygen cords resting just under her nose and when we tried to stop him she always said, "No.  Let him."  She'd just "met" him for the first time and already she loved him, whole-heartedly.

It makes me so sad that he won't remember her.  That this visit is one we'll show pictures of to a child or young man and we'll say, "That's you with your great grandmother" and he'll nod politely without any real interest.  As I did when shown pictures of my great grandmother.

And I understand better now why family is so important to my mom's mom.  Why she was always trying to tell us about Great Grandma, and relatives further up the tree.  Because "Great Grandma" to me is "Mom" to my grandmother.  Because it's insane that someone who meant so much to you can mean so little to your descendants.  Because you want all the people you love to love each other, too.

We fall in love with our children and grandchildren when they're small, helpless things, incapable of understanding or fully reciprocating.  And then we move on into some other realm, or blackness, or nothing, while they're still figuring out what those emotions even mean or feel like.

It's a great treasure we receive from our parents and grandparents, this vast, unconditional love.  And I guess the best you can say about the recipients is that they'll in turn lavish it on their own children and grandchildren.  We're all just paying it forward since we don't learn how to pay it back until it's too late.

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