This post is long overdue. It was a writing prompt from THREE weeks back. Yes, three. I managed to write only one phase at a time. I couldn’t’ go back and edit, so please excuse my many grammar mistakes, especially with tense.
This writing prompt (see here) challenged us to write a story backwards. I wanted to go out on a limb and write something very close to me. Enjoy.
Phase 4: Her End
A vegetable. She laid there in the hospital bed. So quiet. Peaceful. But her heart was numb. The oxygen tube wedged between her teeth distorted her smile. It had moved her teeth. That infuriated me. That’s not how she looks. But she was beautiful to me. We held her hands, squeezing harder in hopes she’d wake up, even though we knew better. She couldn’t come back. She was already gone. I imagined her looking down on us being pissed that we kept her on life support even though in her living will she stated otherwise. DNR. Do Not Resuscitate. But we did it anyway. We needed to be sure. As the oxygen machine stopped pushing oxygen into the tube, my Gramps clenched her hand, leaned over, kissed her on the forehead and whispered, “I’ll see you soon. I love you.” and she was gone. In that moment, I knew he did love her.
Phase 2: Recovery
Our ritual of visiting my Grama slowly became easier and easier. It’s never easy seeing someone you loved in the hospital. She was doing better though. Day by day. A very slow recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. My Mom and I would sit in her room, put on House and listen to her complain about the hospital food. “it’s so dry!!” She’d try to whisper in that loud whisper where everyone could still hear, but pretended not to. She wasn’t a subtle lady. But really, who enjoys hospital food?
She’d been laughing and doing much better, even though she talked in circles. But that would never go away. Dementia set in. That is not reversible. But at least she still had her humor. Conversations with her frustrated most people, myself included from time to time. Although, after a while, I’d just sit back and be thankful that she was alive and doing better.
“So what are you doing tonight, Pumpkin?” That was my nickname. I don’t recall when that started.
“Going to the movies. Should be a fun time.”
“Oh! Who are you going with?” She leaned closer to me as if her room was bugged by the FBI, since, you know, going to a movie is top secret.
“Just a couple of girlfriends.”
“How fun. What are you girls going to do?”
“We’re going to the movies.” I tried to hide any frustrations. She didn’t know. It wasn’t her fault.“
“What day are you going? Sounds like fun.”
“We’re going tonight.”
“Are you going with that boy you are seeing?” She winked.
“No, Grams, I’m going with my girlfriends.”
Typical conversations included recounting details numerous times in five different ways. We never ran out of anything to talk about, though. Talking in circles became normal; formulating thoughts outside the hospital room sounded strange. Linear conversations? What was that?
Phase 3: Reality
I couldn’t be happier that my Grams was going to be able to return home at the end of the week. My Gramps visited her every day. Relief sank in when I knew he would not be driving every day to see her.
My grandparents never once said “I love you” to each other. I never saw them hug or hold hands. I never saw any affection between the two. I often wondered if they still loved each other. They even slept in separate rooms. But “love” was not a concept I truly understood. I was only a month into my 20th year of life, but “love” never made sense to me. My Mom divorced my father when I was seven. I did not have a basis to really understand love between two people. I knew My Gramps had to love my Grams, though, as he somehow managed to drive accident free to the hospital. Every day. Every single day.
My Mom and I decided to stop in and see her one afternoon before heading out to finish our errands. We walked into the room: Gramps sitting in the corner chair reading the newspaper, the nurse taking my Grams’ vitals, and the TV blaring….
“Laverne?” The nurse yelled. My eyes froze at her hand pushing on my Gram’s chest.
“LAVERNE!” No response.
I stood there. Frozen. My Mom clenched my hand. “Get them out. Get them out.” the nurse yelled about us. The crash cart blurred by me into my Gram’s room. Nurses and doctors ran into her room. I only saw streaks of blue and white and grey running next to me.
The images in my mind reminded me of House. Many of those episodes look the same. Except House isn’t a real doctor. He couldn’t come to be an asshole, but save my Grama. He was fake. And this was not. It was real. And she wasn’t ever coming back.
Phase 1: The Beginning
I have a story to tell. One that I haven’t been able to tell in eight years without crying through. This is not a love story of husband and wife, but rather, the truth about why it’s hard for me to watch medical shows, walk into hospitals, see Grandparents taken for granted, and celebrate Christmas. I wish I could say this is a piece of fiction. But it is not. This is just a little piece of me.
Here are some other bloggers who participated in this challenge. I liked their posts and decided to share: