Many who know me, know that I’ve been away from a lot of things for the past 7 months as I’ve journeyed through the world of hospital, rehab and home hospice care with my grandmother, Virginia (most affectionately called Gram). I chose not to speak much of it in my business capacity while it was going on, she deserved and needed my full attention and as early on in growth as my business was, it allowed me time to step away and do one of the most difficult and yet amazing things I will likely ever do in my life. For those that weren’t aware of the circumstances, I do apologize for the disappearance, however, in my return I believe you will find that a whole new depth of understanding of this work, my role in it and how to assist others has emerged. In the coming days, weeks, months, heck even years, I plan to share much of what I learned, what we learned, so stay tuned!
Gram passed on October 1, 2016. She was here, in my home, surrounded by love, friends, family and comfort. I can honestly say I believe that she had the best 6 months at home that we could have hoped for. I cannot tell you that she didn’t suffer at any time in the journey. I don’t know that it is possible to not suffer in the process of making peace with 88 years of life on this earth. I can tell you, however, that I wholeheartedly believe that her suffering was minimized by the honoring of her wishes, by choosing hospice and home care, and by the support and love she received from so many. To those that were part of our journey, we thank you. To those that will become part of our journey, we welcome you. Though Gram has moved on from this earthly realm, her spirit, her love, her strength and her knowledge continue on. Gram chose to share portions of her journey with others to help improve the way we approach end-of-life, I am honored to be her voice in this final wish.
It has been barely more than a week since she died. Even for me, that word sticks in my throat on this occasion, but I refuse to let semantics best me, I have always argued that the power that the word “death” holds over us is a social construct of fear that we have allowed to form over our collective heads. Avoidance of the word perpetuates the false power we have given it, it is but a word, and she has but slipped away beyond our sight, the spirit of her life lives on in the legacy work we did, in her wishes to share her life and her death. I still break down and cry at the oddest things, I panic at moments thinking I need to check on her, I see a beautiful flower and want to show her. It hurts, because I loved her so, and from that place of understanding, the pain hurts not necessarily less, but differently.
I find returning to writing a struggle right now, as if my silence keeps the essence of her bundled deeply within me, safe and secure, so I can linger in her memory. The truth is however, that her memory will remain more vivid and vibrant the more I share, and I cannot lock her away in my heart to remember her, there is no sanctuary in the unwritten or unspoken word now, our futures lie in our resolution to share our stories to help others. Oh and we have so much to share.
I sit in the corner of my dining room, the room she occupied for all that time, the center of the household. The hospital bed and medical supplies no longer clutter the space, the sun shines across the back yard and brilliant colored leaves let go of their branches and fly in the wind. Here I am surrounded by her, even though I can no longer wrap my arms around her. The honest truth is, seven months ago when we started on this journey, we had no idea where we would end up, but we took the leap anyway, a choice I will never regret. Now, I find myself at a similar crossroad, I do not know how this plays out, where I go from here, what the exact nature of my work will entail going forward, I do know however, that it will work out, that I will share our story, and that at the end of the road, we will change the face of dying.