subject line: hurt on top of heartbreak.


covington, kentucky

She didn’t tell me; she just handed me the phone. I read it for myself. An update from him to let us know that Grandma changed her mind. Decided.

She doesn’t want to go to the nursing home. She just wants to go to heaven.

And they gave her the choice. What lingers of her days on earth hooked to machines keeping air in her lungs or to let go. To go home. To fall into the arms of the God she’s served and never have to leave.

She’s choosing to breathe out her last to breathe Him in.

And I can’t be angry about it. I don’t have it in me and I love her too much.

She’s the only one who could make the decision. It is her body that has broken down but left her mind untouched. It is her struggle to last three hours sitting in a chair. It is her fight to stay here. And I can’t help but tell her with all my being that’s it’s okay that she wants to let go now.

She’s fought for months. Years, if you count what came before the calendar flipped to 2015. And I do. I count because I’ve seen her slowly lose - mobility, unassisted breathing, weight; the ability to speak, a significant spark of will and fight from inside of her.

The last time I saw her, I showed her the book- the ones with my words printed inside, my photo next to the other authors. I left it for her, so someone could read to her after I’d gone. And before I walked out of the room, she gripped my hand tight in her own. Her eyes glistened in the hospital light and I could tell she was proud of me. She mouthed, “I love you” and it was all I could do to force myself to get the words out without dissolving into a sobbing mess.

”I love you, too.”

We held on.
Hand in hand.
Heart in heart.

I keep thinking about this story she told me once, when I was young. Someone she loved was dying. The woman turned to her with awe in her eyes and asked everyone in the room, “Can you see them? Can you see the angels?” The woman was the only one who could and she passed on not long after. I can’t help but wonder if my grandma will be seeing them herself soon.

It’s not okay. I keep trying to make it all fit into the mold of “okay,” and I can’t. None of her options are okay, not really. There is no “okay” left for this part of the story... there’s just what it is. There is hurt upon heartache. I’m grieving the loss of her and she isn’t quite gone. I wonder what’s worse: to lose unexpectedly or to know it’s coming and have to watch death rise slowly like a growing shadow.

I have to walk into her room on Sunday and find a way to say goodbye. How do I say everything I need to say when I know it’s the last time I see her alive? How do I tell her everything she deserves to hear? I don’t think I can. Because I told you that none of this is okay, but I’m not either. I’m far from it. She will be lifted into heaven, eternally whole and well and in the presence of God Himself. And I’ll be here in my black dress, sitting on a stiff pew, eyes spilling tears and tissue in hand - praying for my season of grieving to subside and leave His peace in its wake.

I love her. I love her and I want her to be free. To be whole. To be well in ways she hasn’t been in a long time. I want that for her, and I want to be strong and support her as she goes.

I just wish it didn’t have to break my heart.