I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and highlight reels, authenticity, stories which aren’t entirely yours, blogging and community just recently. We all know that what we’re seeing isn’t all there is to a person’s life. My feed is things I want to remember, what I am grateful for and want to remember in the tough times. No more so than the past couple of weeks.
If you looked at my IG feed, you would have no idea what I’ve been up to other than finding tiny frogs and visiting beautiful trees. On Facebook, I’ve shared articles or funny things. You wouldn’t know that those beautiful trees were near the hospital we were visiting my nan in. Or how that little frog gave me a little lift after traveling home from a tough day at the hospital.
I haven’t known what to write. If I should or could. I’ve come to the realisation that you are my community. I haven’t spoken about all that’s been going on and I need to. I’m just going to write. It might be a mess. Make no sense. But it needs to be. The story behind the feed.
It started with a fall. The third in a short space of time which led to my nan being taken to ICU. We were called to see her the Friday after (16th). Walking into her bedside that day, my breath caught in my chest. My heart stopped before galloping off. I knew, going in, things were not good but I wasn’t prepared. At all.
Family filtered in and out through the day, we hugged, cried, laughed together. We visited with nan, holding her hand, talking to her. I held her hand and smoothed her forehead as they inserted a PICC line, which managed to wake her. After the prodding, poking, ‘sharp scratches’ and readjustments led by ultrasound her eyes were open and she was the angriest I had ever seen her (which is saying something, because, really, I hadn’t ever seen her very mad at all). I was relieved to see her awake and so upset she had had to go through that. Telling her I was there, having her know me and look so delighted to see me was so overwhelming. I told her what the munchies were up to and her joy at each little tale was a gorgeous tug on my heart.
I left not knowing if that would be the last time.
The next day we all went up for the weekend. Nan was awake. She was sassy, laughing, holding court and enjoying every second of having her family surrounding her. I gave her a stern talking to about appropriate ways to get visits and she chortled. We heard stories we had never heard before about playing in steal boxes provided by the railway.
I spent that first weekend and the next visiting, loving and cherishing every second with her. Holding tight with those around me, taking that breath but too scared to exhale. When she was awake we chatted. I reminded her of one time, when I lived with them, we were standing at the kitchen bench, she was preparing meat into meal portions for the fridge and freezer. I told her I would never do that for anyone, ever (I was a Vegetarian at the time) and she replied that, one day, I would. Ever so matter-of-fact. She told me that one day, I would love someone and do things like this. Things I didn’t love. Things which made me uncomfortable. Purely because I loved them. And that I would do it for our children.
That’s how I knew she was wrong, you see, even though she was saying it was such annoying certainty. Marriage and babies weren’t for me.
I reminded her of that conversation and told her how glad I was that she had been so annoyingly right.
None of it was what I expected, really.
The joy and laughter as we remembered and shared with nan or amongst ourselves intertwined with the collective held breath, tears and aching heart was magical and painful all at once. I saw the strengthening bond between siblings and their spouses, gorgeous moments of protecting and sharing, bracing and softening.
I spent a lot of time wondering if I was saying ‘I love you’ enough. If I had told her enough just how much of an amazing role model she was, always showing grace and kindness with an open heart and door. Now, especially I can recognise that beautiful grace she showed me as a teenager suffering from school and social phobia. Taking me in to live there and making sure I worked toward recovery no matter how hard or how much I resisted. Did I say ‘thank you’ enough? And did I convey just how much those years meant to me? How much those years taught me and made me realise I could fight these illnesses.
Last weekend while I was there, she asked me to sew her three skirts. She would pick the fabric soon, she said. I told her I couldn’t sew and her shocked look was so gloriously delightful, I don’t even know why. We had so many moments of pure happiness in such a dire place. When I left on the Sunday she opened her eyes after not being awake much, looked me in the eye and said ‘You are so special to us. Thank you for coming.’ like I would have chosen to be anywhere else. I told her she was so special to me, too.
I took Felix home (the rest of the family had stayed home the second weekend). It felt different.
On Tuesday evening, we got the call that my beloved nan had passed away, she was finally at peace. No longer in pain. I don’t think it has really sunk in for me, yet. Even having been there. Seeing how exhausted she was and knowing how things were progressing.
This doesn’t seem enough. There’s so much to say. It feels like there’s too much to say and too little words in which to say it. How can you ever capture and share the essence of one of the most amazing beings? How can you impart the lessons and reveal all the moments which made up a life. Or show how hearts have been cracked open because of the love she gave us all.
I hope she knows.
That she was one of my absolute favourites. An integral part of me becoming me. That I love her with everything I have. That I am beyond grateful. That her being such an important part of my munchies life has been the best thing.