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Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Last Friday, my grandmother passed away.

Thursday night, I got the call that Oma was in the hospital and it was serious. I was at the hospital by 2 AM; Most of my family was there. The staff had just given her heavy-duty painkillers and she was asleep.

I found out that the week before she had been in the hospital for a few days, but was released home. On Thursday she had severe pain and was readmitted. She was diagnosed with ischemic gut, which basically means that her intestines had shut down due to blood-deprivation; her other organs would follow suit. Surgery was proposed but cancelled because her condition had progressed too far, I guess. At first, my family was told she only had a few days left - soon after, this was reduced to a few hours. I was told later that while she was still conscious, she had stoically told everyone she knew she would not make it.

Opa was devastated, obviously. Every so often, he cried briefly. The rest of the time, he sat beside the bed, hand shaking, in a daze. Most everyone was visibly upset. I think I was numb. I kept thinking about my uncles and Opa, feeling sad for them, that they were losing their mother, his wife. I couldn't think of my own loss.

Oma moaned softly in her sleep, and her legs twitched every once in a while. Various family members took turns holding her hand. I was terrified of holding her hand, in case she died while I did so.My aunt played a recording of of her grandson, who lives in Alberta, singing; it was the last song Oma heard, if she could hear anything.

Eventually, her legs stopped moving. Her fingernails had turned blue. My mother was holding her hand, when Opa broke down again. She couldn't take it, and left the room. It seemed like an eternity that Oma's hand was empty, but I found myself ignoring my fear and taking her hand in my own. I watched as her breaths became weaker and farther apart...And then she was gone. I felt her die, felt her hand go limp.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to say anything, so I tried to tell my aunt with my eyes. I looked at my  sister, who was wide-eyed, and I think she said something like, "That's it, then?" I nodded. I got up and went out to the hallway to tell the rest of the family, then I went to inform a nurse.

The nurse did an excellent job of looking after Oma, and the rest of the family. She explained Oma's condition as best she could when asked, and even told us how it could progress. She even cried and gave each of us a hug.

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