Hello like before?

All day I’ve been plagued by a really intense flashback.

I probably wrote this before, when it was all still vivid and tender. It was actually only two years ago but it certainly seems a lifetime ago.

I watched my grandmother die.

It was the last way I’d envisioned that week to end. My family and I had spent the last few days at the hospital, only leaving to have bizarre, disconnected meals at nearby restaurants. One afternoon the doctors informed us that only a miracle would save her; her mind was virtually defunct from the stroke and subsequent hemorrhaging. The decision to pull the plug fell on my grandpa’s shoulders.

One reads about this all the time, but the words of others hardly do justice to the real misery. Many people like to say they would do it as a service to the soon-to-be-departed, but when faced with the actual decision, having a loved one’s life in your hands changes everything.

I know it did for my grandpa. In my mind I knew it was best, but he didn’t want to let go. Fifty years together wasn’t enough. We spent an agonizing hour or so waiting for the decision, but in the end she took it away from us. She started to go on her own.

All we could do was watch and make her comfortable. She didn’t take long. Maybe she was fed up with wasting our time, or seeing our sad faces for a whole week. I like to think she knew my grandpa was having such a hard time and wanted to alleviate his burden.

God, that waiting was the worst. At first, waiting to see if she would pull out of her coma, then waiting for my grandpa’s decision. And then finally waiting for her to die.

It was incredibly quiet in her small hospital room. There were silent tears and the occasional sniffle, and we hardly noticed the droning of all the machines surrounding her bed.

When her heart monitor issued that tell-tale flatline, we all released a collective sigh before the sobbing began. I didn’t realize it until afterward, but we’d all been holding each other in some way: hands touched, or arms curved around shoulders.

I think I cried silently; I’d been holding back the tears, perhaps because I could feel that I wouldn’t be able to stop them in the near future. For me, it was strange to cry over something that hardly resembled Ma anyway. The lifeless form in the hospital bed never seemed to be her.

This is the moment that shocks me out of reality from time to time with its seemingly endless pain. So far, it is the most significant episode of my life.

I try to push back these flashbacks because I don’t want to remember Ma that way. She was much more than that moment.

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