Waiting on the Rainbow (Dealing with a loss)

Hello everyone. I just wanted to take the time and put some of my thoughts down. Honestly, this is just a way for me to sort of deal with suffering. So here it goes.

I know I have not written in a while and I have contemplated coming back to it. Writing is something I honestly love to do, and a way I express myself, but some other things stood in the way of my passion. I don’t really care to disclose it at this time. As some of you may know, or have realized, about a week and a day after my last post was published, my grandmother passed away. My family and I weren’t expecting it, or at least not at the time. We figured she might not make it through the winter because of spreading illness, but little did we know that she would be gone before Christmas.

My grandmother’s passing has definitely been hard for me and I’m still trying to figure out how to cope. Her death was probably one of the biggest losses I have ever had in my life and I feel that it’s time I finally open up about it and just show how God worked in my life during such a hard time.

The beginning of my grandmother’s journey home began the day I arrived home for winter break. Other than having Dementia, and occasional bad days, my grandmother was doing okay. The last time I had seen her was for thanksgiving. My family and I went over to her assisted living facility for a nice lunch. This was obviously a God thing, but our thanksgiving lunch with her was more than we could ever ask for. She was bright eyed and cheery and she managed to eat most of her food. All together, it was just a great day for everyone and the best shape my family and I had seen her in, in a good while. I was not expecting what was coming next.

After arriving home and taking my last final of the first semester, I was so tired and all I wanted to do was rest. As I was about to lie down, my mother said she was going to see my grandmother and that I could join her if I wanted too. At first I said, “I would love to, but I just can’t function today.” As I laid down I just had this gut feeling, God speaking to me, telling me I needed to go and see her because time was limited. So I did. I didn’t want to believe this feeling inside and was expecting her to be in the state I left her in.

When my mom and I arrived the nurses warned us that she was in bed and that she hadn’t been eating or wanting to eat. I walked into her room and over to her bed so I could say hello and give her a kiss. I had really missed her. The state I found her in shocked me though. Her body was limp and her eyes glazy. This wasn’t the Ganny[1] I had known or ever seen. I tried to hold back tears as long as I could, but after several minutes, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I fled the room, tears streaming down my face. At this point I knew it wouldn’t be long. I wish I could have denied the inevitable, but that wouldn’t be worth it, because at this point my family and I knew she was dying. God was ready for her to come home. For the next few days I spent just about every minute by her side. I would occasionally leave and grab a bite to eat or go home to sleep at night. Other than that, I was always with her. As hard as it was, I would not have wanted it any other way. I loved just holding her hand and rubbing my fingers through her hair. She still had a great grip. I also would sing to her my own rendition of “You are my Sunshine,” that went like this. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Lord, please take care of my sunshine today.” I changed the last line because I felt like “please don’t take my sunshine away” wasn’t appropriate or selfish. Looking back now, even though she is gone from this earth, she is my sunshine in heaven.

By Wednesday, I was grateful that she was still holding on. But I felt God telling me that Wednesday was the day she would journey home forever. My friends knew this was not easy for me and they pulled me away to grab dinner and to take a break. I honestly was not with the program though and was still feeling so lost and sad inside. After grabbing dinner and taking a breather, I returned to my grandmother’s to be greeted by family, who also came to visit every day. We all talked for a little while in the living area and then I decided to step away to be with my grandmother. I hated the thought of her being alone. As I approached her bedside and to give her a kiss, I realized her breathing was very heavy. This hurt so badly, but I knew God was taking care of her. My mom and I then decided in order to make her feel more comfortable; we should give her a quick sponge bath and a change of clothes. While that may not sound like a lot of fun, it made me feel great inside, just knowing I could help and comfort her. Plus, she took care of me when I was little. After we had gotten her all situated my family, aunts, uncles, cousins and I gathered around her bedside. Her breathing kept picking up and it was not easy to watch. Honestly we all began to sob and I had to step out occasionally. The nurses were supposed to be coming with some medicine though, to help slow her breathing and ease any discomfort she might have. A little while later, my younger cousins and two of my aunts left to head home for the evening. The rest of us gathered around my grandmother’s bedside to serve as a source of comfort. I of course had to be right next to her holding her hand. Even as her breathing slowed, her grip was still strong and she made an effort to try and watch all of us. For a while we sat in silence and sometimes we would just talk to her. As ten o’clock approached though, she took her last breath. I’ve never seen someone die or take their last breathe before, so I initially freaked out a little. I also knew she was gone because that strong grip she had before, was no longer there. I didn’t want to believe that this just happened and I wished that I could just hold her hand forever. As hard as it was, I knew now that she was where she belonged. She would no longer have to battle with Dementia. She was in a place where she could now remember everyone’s name, and where she could finally be with her husband. (I can rest assured that she is in heaven and watching over me because she was a very faithful and wonderful woman who devoted her life to Jesus Christ.)

The next days that followed were not easy. Her funeral was being planned and arrangements were being made. On December 20th, 2014, her 74th birthday, my beloved grandmother was laid to rest. I, thankfully, was blessed with the opportunity to speak at her funeral. I thought I was going to be so nervous and also have a break down, but God and my Ganny, held me together and got me through. God’s presence was so strong and amazing.

Even though it has been two months since her passing, it is still very hard. Sometimes I think she is still here and that I’m going to visit her the next time I am at home, but them I am faced with reality. Most people think when you lose a loved one with an ongoing illness or disease that it’s easier to deal with and get over the loss because you know they are no longer suffering. Honestly, it is not though. Yes, I am so happy for her, her healing, and the experience she now has in heaven, but no matter what, losing someone is still very hard. I spent a lot of time with her, even as her illness progressed. I helped to take care of her and just show my love and support for her. I long for the visits I will no longer get to have with her or just being able to hold her hand. I lost her once before, to the disease, but I could still physically be with her. Losing her this time was losing the last piece of her that I physically had and could hold onto. God really helped me through it all, and honestly for those who don’t have God in their lives, I don’t know how they can make it through a time like that. His presence was so clear and comforting to me. Because of him, I know she didn’t have to suffer and died in peace. Thankfully, I am left with all of the wonderful memories and moments we spent together, from family vacations to her just watching my sister and I. Her heart was filled with God and so much love for everyone. I hope to be at least half the woman she was. I now live my life, and everyday, just trying to make her proud. I miss her so much and will continue too, but I know she is where she belongs, home with her Lord and savior and my Papa. I love you so much Ganny and you are forever on my heart and in my mind. This isn’t a see you later, but an until we meet again.

In Loving Memory of my grandmother, Joyce K. Baughan

[1] The nickname my cousins and I gave my grandmother, and called her, ever since we were kids.

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