Thursday, February 2, 2012

five years ago, she left us.

I wrote this journal entry on a website I used as a teenager. The journal is private now so I couldn't link the original, so I copy and will paste it, here.

Sip #574 : Worst week of my life. I miss her so much.

02/09/07 4:39 am

Sorry for my absence, I hope you all understand.

This past week has been the hardest, longest week of my life, I believe.

Last Tuesday, I was attending a meeting/training session for the tax clinic. Afterward, I returned to my desk, and the receptionist came with a note. "Nicole, call ###-#### ASAP." It was my dad's number. My heart sank. I had a feeling I knew what was happening.

I couldn't call long distance on my desk phone, so my boss gave me her cell phone. I called. And I was right.

"Gramma isn't going to make it."

As soon as I got off the phone with my dad, I called Jake's partner. I couldn't get ahold of Jake on my own, and he didn't answer, so I left a message half in tears, saying, "Rick, it's Nicole. I can't get ahold of Jake, so if you can find a way to, or find someone who can, tell him my Grandma isn't going to make it, and I have to go to her."

I told my supervisor what was happening and gave her her phone back. She took the Crisis phone that I was supposed to have for the week and said "I'll take care of this." I ran out the door to my car.

I couldn't even stop home to feed Wendell, so I stopped at Matt's and gave him my keys, I said, "she's dying, feed Wendell, ok?" and he said he would.

The drive to the hospital, 45 minutes, was an eternity. I almost had to stop numerous times because I was breaking down.

And I didn't know how to get ahold of Jake. It was so hard to think about having to go through this all without him.

When I got there, I couldn't even go into her room. About 9 of my family were already there, and she had tubes hooked up to her, and she wasn't awake anyway. I looked in and saw her, and broke down and ran away from the room. My dad followed me. I found a small waiting area and just sat there sobbing while he held me. Then he told me I needed to eat (typical dad thing, right?) so he took me and all of my cousins out for supper.

When we got back from supper, I saw the Schwan's truck parked outside of the hospital. I came in, and he was standing there with his arms wide open, and I sobbed for so long.

She woke up for a little while, and mumbled softly, though it was so hard to understand. We decided that she was asking for "big sloppy kisses." She was only awake for a very short while. That was the last time she'd be awake. I went in the room though, but I needed to be alone.

I kissed her cheek, and I said, "You've always been my best friend. You saved me." Her eyes fluttered. I KNOW she heard me and tried to respond. But I know what she would have said anyway.

My siblings and I sat there for a while, Bryan, Sammi, Allie, and I, sobbing. I held Bryan for a long time. It was so hard to be there, especially without Dustin. That broke my heart.

Jake, my dad, my aunt Linda, and I were the last ones in the room that night. Linda stayed overnight. But I sat there and sobbed for so long, just Linda and I in the room.

When I was leaving, I said, "I'll see you later, G-ma. Sweet dreams, ok?"

When I would spend the night at her house, she always let me sleep on the right side of her huge bed. I was her special one. I really was. She wasn't supposed to have favorites, but I was hers. I think because I spent so much of my life under her wings. I feel like everyone knew it. Sometimes, I feel bad feeling that way. Especially if it was all in my head.

Jake made me spend the night with him in Morton (a few miles away) at the hotel. Tuesdays are his overnight, and he wasn't supposed to be coming home. So I did. I didn't sleep at all.

On Wednesday, we got to the hospital around 8:45am. My uncle had finally arrived from Texas, where he's been working for months. My aunt Sara and her daughters were on their way from the cities. Their flight from Seattle came in at 6am.

Wednesday was the longest day of my life. We watched her slowly fade away. She didn't wake up once that day. Every hour they'd come and take her blood sugar and her blood pressure. Her pressure went from 70s/40s to 50s/20s to 40s/10s, to unmeasurable. The last time they checked her blood sugar, it was at 34. We asked them not to take it anymore, and to take the needles out.

At that moment, we knew she'd never have to deal with needles again.

The pastor arrived at 3:00pm, and did a prayer service with us all. By this time, her 6 children, 5 children-in laws, 15 of her 17 living grandchildren, 1 grandson in-law, 4 significant others, and 3 of her 4 great-grandchildren were at the hospital. Her sister and brother-in-law were there too. Her room was filled. And there were 10 chairs in the hallway outside her room where those not in the room could sit. We couldn't all fit.

Her sister left in the afternoon. She said, "I'll see you tomorrow, sister. I love you."

Just after 1:00 in the morning, on Thursday, February 1, my grandmother left us.

When Jake and I got home that night, Wendell had destroyed the place, but Matt had cleaned it up for us.

I sobbed harder than I had ever sobbed in my life. I couldn't breathe. I just kept thinking, "I'm only 23. I have so many years without her." I realized I'd never get another letter, another phone call, another hug or kiss, and she'd never say 'I love you, Nikkie.' again. And it hurt more than any broken bone I've ever had. My heart hurt. Literally.

I barely slept, but Jake held me all night.

Thursday we went to Lamberton to my dad's. My grandma raised her children in the house my parents have been raising my family in since 1994. It only felt right to be there. We planned her funeral. The day was a big blur. I spent the night there, sleeping in my dad's bed with Allie. She didn't fully understand what was going on.

I don't much remember Friday, but Allison didn't want me to cry anymore, so she decided she needed to spend the night with me. Jake had to go to work to make up the two days he took off, and had an overnight, so I decided it was a good idea. She's one person who can help me feel better in almost any circumstance. So she spent the night, two nights, and we took her home Sunday.

On Monday, I went back to Lamberton, and we went through Grandma's things. I didn't need anything. I didn't really want anything, but her daughers and son decided that I would be the one to receive my grandmother's engagement ring. I was the firstborn grandchild. My cousin Tarah, the next oldest daughter, second engaged, received her wedding band. Her accordian went to Jacob.

They sent an afghan with for him, too, and a baby one for my future children. She made gorgeous afghans.

The one he received was always at the head of her bed. It still smells like her, faintly. I've been sleeping with it every night. It's starting to lose her scent, and it kills me to know that soon it'll be gone.

Monday was also my six month wedding anniversary.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was her funeral. It was so hard. I couldn't look in her casket at first. I just couldn't. I didn't want to see her not breathing. The last I had seen her, was two weeks prior, with my aunt Sara (read the last January entry, I think it's there) and she was still my Gma, laughing, telling jokes, stories, full of life and love. This wasn't her anymore. It hadn't been for a week. Eventually I looked, with my brother Bryan and Jake at my side. I held their hands and consoled Bryan. He was taking it so hard.

15 minutes before the funeral service, the pastor had a family time with us, once more. As he was wrapping up, Dustin, my brother in jail, walked in. I knew then that I could cry. I ran to him, in the middle of the pastor's message to us, and hugged him, and he bawled harder than he ever had before.

The funeral service was a bit of a blur. Her family took up the first 8 pews in the church. I remember in the message, the pastor, who was crying (he loved her too), made a reference to the Wednesday before she died. He had walked into the hospital and saw us flooding the corridor, and knew how much she was loved, and how much she loved all of us. She waited until we had all said our goodbyes to go. That's how she was. Always.

We buried her outside of Walnut Grove, next to her former husband (they never stopped loving each other, but he suffered from Schizophrenia, so they couldnt' stay together), so she wouldn't be alone. We knew she'd like that.

She was buried under a fresh coat of snow. She loved the snow.

I could barely leave. I had to be escorted away from her with my uncle, my husband, and my dad. I didn't want to leave her. The thought of leaving her there in that casket, in the ground, was SO final, and I didn't want her to be alone. I always hated leaving her. This was the worst. She couldn't even give me a hug goodbye.

The rest of the day was a blur. We went back to my dad's and spent the day. We laughed, we cried.

Jake and I came home, and he held me as I cuddled with that blanket and sobbed my heart out. It still hurts so much. It's too final. It's going to be too long.

I'm not doing well. I went to my internship, and don't remember the day at all. But I'm still breathing, and I'm trying.

Her favorite color was green. There were so many green plants from people who couldn't come gracing the church. It was amazing to see green.

And I'm sorry that was so long. If you read it all, her name was Leora Mae. Include that somewhere, so I know that you took the time to read it. It would really mean a lot to me.

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