“Grandpa, you already told me that.”

I remember as a child, probably around 10 years old, my Grandpa telling me the same stories over and over again. I would say “Grandpa, you already told me that.” And he’d shrug his shoulders and say “Yeah, maybe I did.” And we would go back to playing whatever game we were playing.

My Grandparents on my mother’s side were my whole life back then. My parents were divorced and my mother moved back to her home town to be closer to her family. Being a single mother of two girls I’m sure she needed all the help she could get. Their house became my safe spot. I always felt loved and welcome there.

My Grandma was your typical house wife of the 1950’s. She did everything for just about everybody. My Grandpa spent his days tinkering on projects in the garage. Breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper were always at the same time. And the food was always the same. Anything from homemade macaroni to goulash, pan fried hamburger patties to pork and beans. Your typical American dishes.

I loved their house, well, because it was a house. Not an apartment or a duplex with scary neighbors. There was a big fenced in backyard with plenty of room for a kid to get into trouble. I would ride my bike around in the dirt and crash into the chain link fence. Stuff kids dreams are made of. Climb the tree, swing on the swing, build forts and play in the mud. It was a magical place.

I sometimes wish I were older. That I knew the importance of the time we spent together. When your 10 years old you’re not cherishing the moments you share with your grandparents. You’re worried about your next adventure in the backyard and if you’re going to get some jello for a snack. It never crosses your mind that you will never get these moments back. That once they’re gone, they’re gone.

My Grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when I was very young. His disease got the best of him about 10 years later. He suffered a stroke on September 11th, 2001. Yeah, I know, that was just a bad day all around. He passed away exactly two weeks later.

My Grandma did surprisingly well. She was enjoying sleeping in and not cooking dinner. Skipping a cleaning day and watching baseball on the television. My aunt moved in to help her as she got older. Eventually it was clear that she needed constant care. She could no longer walk on her own and my aunt was not physically able to help her anymore. She was moved to a small assisted living home. It wasn’t the fanciest place but the workers were all very nice. I’m confident that she received good care. I wanna say she was in there for a couple of years. My mother and aunts visited her everyday, I went on the weekends because I worked during the week.

At some point it was clear to us all that she was ready to go. In overall good health, there was no reason for alarm except that she started refusing to eat. I knew that her quality of life had suffered greatly after losing her ability to walk. I can only imagine her discomfort. She passed away with all of us by her side.

I can picture them now, dancing together. Roller skating to their favorite song or bowling while sharing a pop. They were great people and I miss them every day.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that has plagued our family. My aunt was diagnosed a few years back. And I’m sad to say that today she had to be admitted to a care facility. Her anger is too much for my uncle to handle alone. I dread the road we are about to walk along. Knowing all to well what to expect. It seems harder now that I’m older. I have more empathy than I did as a child.

Death is not something I claim to worry about. But I can’t say that I am not scared of it. The unknown. I worry about never seeing the ones I love again. I worry about being alone. I worry about being a burden on my family. Life has a way of dragging out a lesson and not revealing it’s meaning until the very end. I’m sure I will get to a space where I will feel more comfortable with death. But I can’t see that happening soon.

I’m not ready to deal with this again. I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t understand why Alzheimer’s exist but I wish I could make it disappear.

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If I died would they notice?

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I think I may have used that phrase on a previous blog. It’s a common thread that makes it’s rounds in my head. But really, I wonder how much it would matter. Of course there would be initial sadness. But who would really notice? My husband first and foremost. Of course he would be affected the greatest. And my puppies, they would miss more terribly than anyone. Beyond that…? Beyond the closest of relationships I begin my skepticism. My employer would have to replace me and that is inconvenient. My seester would miss me but she lives in another state so it’s not like we see each other often. My mother would be devastated but that is more about her own issues than me actually being dead.

I guess the answer is yes. But that stupid voice in my head makes me question things like this constantly.

I realize this is not a positive post so I need to put a spin on it. Let’s turn that negative into a positive.

……………………………………..

People would miss my light hearted openness. They would miss talking to me. They would miss my personal sense of style. My pink hair. Maybe even my hazel eyes (or the birth mark in the left one.) They most likely miss my ability to be empathetic about anything. My laugh or snort (which happens occasionally.) But hopefully most of all the would just miss my company. Because more than anything in the world I just need to be welcomed, needed, desired…

It comes in waves

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Suicide makes death harder to accept.

The feelings a person must experience to think death is their only option are too agonizing to understand.

The despair in the air is suffocating my mind.

Empathy is rolling off of me in waves so big I’m drowning in my own compassion.

My heart aches for a way to end the pain the ones I love are suffering.

I hope the search for peace ended in discovery.

 

Death

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Death has a way of bringing your day to a stand still. There is no way to continue until you have time to process what you just heard or witnessed. I don’t care who’s death it was. Someone close or a stranger. Even an animal. Death is simply hard to comprehend. The thought that our lives and those around us can be over in a split second makes you feel vulnerable and scared. Sure, we all want to be at peace with the inevitable but it takes some time to digest.

The death of a friend is much more complicated. Not a terribly close friend but someone you like to hang out with, someone you care about. To hear that they suddenly no longer exist is quite shocking. You start to wonder what happened. Piece together things you’ve heard about them or seen. As information trickles in you begin to form your own opinion.

Now take that a step further. You knew this individual was not happy. You could see the struggles they were having. But like I said before, you weren’t terribly close. You assumed they had a close friend or relative that they could rely on for support. What if you assumed wrong? What if that individual needed all the support they could get from anyone willing to give it? Now you’re stuck feeling sad and regretful that maybe you could have done something. Keep in mind, you still don’t know what happened. But you can’t help but feel connected.

So let’s back track. Don’t panic. It could have been a freak accident. Just because someone is having a rough time does not mean they would end there own life. Keep your mind open to the possibility that what little you did was well received and appreciated. And that regardless of your actions some peoples fates are already sealed. Now there is a little guilt because of the first explanation you thought of. You feel guilty for feeling what others might be feeling. What could be true.

Death. A mystery. A confusing time for all. A sad and tragic event. A release for some. A blessing for others. But most of all a new beginning for those still here and for the ones who have passed. Death is inevitable. We all face it. The feelings that come with it are natural and normal and should be embraced.

To those I’ve lost: I miss you. To those I know have passed: May you find peace. And to those who have yet to leave this world: Remember that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed.