Today I flew into Grand Rapids. To get here, from Aroostook County, I started at six o’clock this morning, and caught three successive buses—the first to Bangor, thence Portland, thence Boston. Then a plane to Chicago, and finally, at 10:25 pm, Grand Rapids. I drove straight to the nursing home with my brother to see my grandmother.
She is actively dying. She and my grandfather were married for 64 years, and although I can’t quite accept it, I believe that she held onto her cancer-ridden body just long enough to see her husband through the gate. Now she’s choosing to follow him. She’s always been known for her quiet, forceful strength. If anyone could will herself to life, and now to death, it’s her.
This process has been so long, and we’ve been grieving their passing for so long, but I still wasn't prepared. I can’t stop thinking about two summers ago, August 2009, when my grandmother fed me from her own garden for the last time. I couldn’t believe then, I still can’t believe now, that it really was the last time. I can’t believe that if I pull into her driveway, open the door to her house, that there won’t be chocolate cake waiting for me. I can’t believe that I’ll never again walk through her hallway and smell beef roasting, hear the table being set.
No matter when death comes, we’re not ready. It’s the nature of death. My grandmother, at least, follows her husband. As she did in life, so in death.