This is a copy of an email I sent out on the 17th:
My mom called last night, it's any day now. She's been dying of a rare stomach cancer now for awhile. She was first diagnosed last year, (around summer of 2003) I just saw her this August after a surgery to unblock her intestines. She was looking better, in great spirits, if a little thin. I was going to go back later on but she took a turn for the worse very quickly and I didn't want to see her that way. I didn't go in December.
In some ways, I regret not going, as I know she wanted to give me a gift she got for me, with help from my mom. She also washed four of her quilts for the kids. But all of my aunts were going and it got tense and strained as I knew it would be. My mom says it's probably best that I didn't go. But, then I didn't go later on either, as I just couldn't handle seeing her that way I guess. Part of me was in denial. I got to hug her and talk to her in August and enjoy some time at her house. But seeing her all yellow, thin, and out of it wasn't how I wanted to remember her.
She's not eating now, not opening her eyes, she's bed ridden in a hospital bed in the livingroom. She can't swallow, so they inject liguid pain medication, and everyone hopes it's actually relieving her pain, since she can't speak. My mom puts a little water in her mouth, because she can tell her mouth is so dry. Her face is sunken and hallowed, and when my mom put the phone up to her, her breathing is slow and labored. Actually, I wasn't thrilled she did that as I haven't heard something that haunting before, it was reality though. It almost sounds like she's on a machine but she's not. Sometimes her breathing is fast and she stops short. Everyone is just waiting, and a bit angry that God is allowing her to hang on like this. To be a shell of a person, urinating in her own bed. ( Even if there's a catheder)
Grandpa is already talking about when he "goes home to the Lord". I knew he would start with that, why would a man who spent 50 years with the love of his life, and for all her oddities he does love her tremendously, want to stay around? He gets up, checks on her, hugs her, kisses her, and prayers over her. Every day and night as he has done all these years. He always has prayed with her every morning and every night. I think in some ways, God allowed me to help my mom get to MN so she could be with her mother in the end, show love to her in a way she didn't even know she could , and be near while she died. Just in July my mom had to come live with us as she had no where to go. Then just two months ago my aunt offered to let my mom stay with her. Every free time my mom has is spent at grandma's house. She's the only one my grandma would allow to bathe her. She would sit naked at the end of the bed, just talking about things that made no sense to anyone else. Saying names of people not known to us. My mom reassured her it was OK, grandma took care of and bathed all of her eight kids, and now it's her turn to help her.
One of the times that she was having a good day, and able to really follow a conversation, she hugged my mom, clung to her as she left for my aunts and told her she didn't want her to go. She didn't want it to end. Although, a person can believe in their heart they possess eternal life it's not natural to leave your loved ones, no matter how much death is a part of life. It just confirms that death is not meant to be, it's a curse of sin. I guess the service is being planned for two weeks after she passes to give all my aunts time to fly out there. I am only six hours away, so I will drive and stay at least a night. Her church will hold the service. She hadn't been to church in months and was best friends with the pastors wife. She wanted to be cremated; I am surprised by that.
My grandma had many issues but we love her and I know she loved us. I hate the way God is taking her home, but I know that even though the process in which she is dying is terrifying, that something so totally amazing is about to happen to her. She's going to meet Jesus at last. And she always believed that with all her heart. There's a song called I Can Only Imagine that just brings this reality home. It's by Mercy Me you have to hear this song, to really feel the impact though.