Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Conveyor Belt of Life



So much is going on at home, I can barely organize my thoughts. I've put off writing this blog post for several days, because it has felt overwhelmingly difficult dealing with anything and everything that requires more than five minutes of my attention span. 

My grandmother passed away on July 12th. She was my last surviving grandparent. The last of her generation. For the past several years she had battled with cancer that started in her breasts and later, after a double mastectomy, spread to her lymph nodes and throughout her body. Cancer ravaged her. I can't think of another word for it. 

I drove my mother to see Grandma last month. I think it was last month. The days blend. That's how it is for me lately. It's difficult to concentrate on anything, much less keep up with important dates. Anyway, the trip. Mom and I did a day drive, which is to drive across state, see the family, then drive back home all in one hit. It's a long long drive and a physically draining trip. It was worth it, of course, but I didn't take into account how mentally taxing that trip would be. 

I guess I was expecting to see the Grandma as I remembered seeing her last time. Frail, but getting around. Opinionated. Independent. I wasn't prepared to see a woman reduced to bones, and that's what I saw when I walked into the room. I recognized her face, she had the same curly gray hair, but the rest of her was bones covered with a sheet. You knew she was dying when you looked at her. I can't tell you how heartbreaking that is. You have to keep up good spirits, and you can see what's happening. You can't deny it.  

Mom didn't think Grandma would make it to her birthday (she didn't), so she brought Grandma's birthday gifts: a couple of pretty nightgowns with dragonflies on them. And then we sat with her for a couple of hours. Grandma didn't seem to know who everyone in the room was, but she did have a few lucid moments, and I know she definitely remembered who I was. She bragged to one my cousins that I'm the granddaughter who writes books - so, evidently she recognized me, remembered what I do, and was proud of me for it, which I will be eternally grateful for. Just that she recognized me. That was probably the only thing good I took from the entire trip. I was too sick with a cold to hug on her too much, because she had no immune system left.

I held it together for my mom while we were there, but this has been a terrible summer. Everything is in chaos. A couple days after mom and I made the day trip, Mom called grandma at the nursing home/hospice. Grandma didn't remember her daughter's voice, not even when Mama said her name. She didn't even remember that we had come to visit, due partly to her advancing dementia and partly to the amount of morphine they were giving her to manage the pain.

Her funeral was yesterday. We couldn't all attend. We had to arrange and rearrange to make it so Mom could go. So I ended up taking care of things for Mom while her and dad made the trip. This is the bad thing about living in a state away from the rest of the family. 

Today, I am empty. I feel like I've been baking in the sun. My skin feels hot and tight, and my nerves are on edge. I'm burnt out from the emotional roller coaster of the past month. We knew this was coming, and we've tried to prepare for it. But you can't really prepare for it. 

For the past three days - the day before the funeral, and today (Monday / Wednesday) - I've been wrangling with college scheduling, paperwork, registration. The college website is in need of updating. The information found there is incomplete or outdated, or otherwise there are important steps missing to what you need to do. In person, no one tells you where you need to go or what you need to do to satisfy requirements, you're supposed to magically know, I guess. They look at you like you're an idiot when you start asking questions, and try to quickly shoo you out the door. If I had a dollar for every time I've been given the deer in the headlights look, or the "you're an idiot" look over the past few days, I'd be able to buy dinner for four. That has been my experience with registration so far. Add to that, my heart isn't in it. 

MY HEART IS NOT IN IT, which makes it extremely difficult to weather anyone's bullshit. 

I just want to cry and sleep, but there's no time to do either of those things.   

Last night while dozing with SassiePup, I had this nightmare that all of humanity was on this large, slow moving conveyor belt. At the end of the line was this drop off into...I don't know what or where, but when one generation would reach the end mark, they would simply drop off the conveyor one person at a time, until none were left, then this bar would raise and the next generation would be progressed along another conveyor belt to the drop off point, and the process would start again. 

In the dream, I watched my grandmother, as I'd seen her on her death bed, dropped off the conveyor. The moment she was out of sight, the conveyor moved under my feet. I was moved forward to a waiting point, and when I looked around, I realized that was where my parents had been standing five minutes before. Terror shot through me. I looked up and saw my mom and dad's conveyor moving into the final section of the conveyor belt. The section closest to the drop off.  

I woke up with this horrible sense that everything was ending. And that it was inevitable. That life is just a short ride on a conveyor to a drop off point. Once you're tossed off, someone else takes your place, and life just keeps going. Rinse and repeat. It was a horrible dream. I haven't been able to forget it. It's still very vivid in my mind. 

I'm supposed to give a Savvy Author's workshop on Critical Reading starting the 21st, but I've postponed it til late September. I don't have any new dates yet. I'm terribly sorry about that. I hope those who registered will understand and forgive me for the delay. Our family needs time to grieve. I need time.

Until things settle down with family, I won't be online as  much. I'll still be reachable through Facebook and emails on and off throughout the day. I keep those channels open because Oldest is deployed, but for the most part, I'll be offline and focusing on family. Thanks for understanding. ♥♥♥

2 comments:

  1. So sorry for your loss, Cora. I lost my last living grandmother last year. It's a hard thing. You feel like you have more family gone than still living. Good for you going to school. I've been wanting to take some classes, still thinking about it.

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  2. Thank you for your kinds words, Nancy. Things finally feel like they are starting to normalize again, although we now have to take care of grandma's personal thing. As for school, I'm a little nervous navigating an unfamiliar campus, but ultimately I'm glad to be going back. It's been a long time since I actually set foot in a campus classroom.

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