Before anything else, I started doing a monthly post where I daily track things I am thankful for. This is something I started to work on complaining less and praising more. I only started it last month and I waited until the end to publish it.
For this month, I’ve decided to publish it already. If you’re interested in a daily track of what’s going through my mind and heart as my family and I go through this painful and difficult time, you can see it here.
Everything is happening so rapidly, it feels like there’s no time for us to even breathe. In the past 48 hours, I’ve had a lot of medical information thrown at me. Between all of us, we’ve cried enough tears to water gardens.
I don’t like to cry. Not in front of other people. I don’t like to tell people I’m hurting. And honestly, I usually don’t feel much pain anymore. I’ve grown so weary of hurting that now, after a night’s sleep, it’s usually out of my conscious thoughts. I shrug my shoulders, bury it somewhere deep where it roots itself and threatens to grow into branches of bitterness, anger, and all the other uglies.
Normally, I don’t process my pain. That’s why I don’t feel it for very long. So, if you, for some reason, thought I was a strong person, I’m not. I’m weak and I’m a pansy. That’s why I don’t let myself feel things fully. That’s why I’m constantly trolling. That’s why I don’t do confrontations.
I am in pain. More pain than I feel like I can bear. But, this is a pain that demands to be felt. And, I would be a heartless monster if I didn’t oblige.
That’s why I’m writing. Because, it hurts, but I need to be able to lay it out and put it into words. Or else, I might come apart in the worst possible ways. Or else, through it all, I might turn to unhealthy ways to cope. I’ll be honest with you. The thoughts have already started to sporadically skip around my thoughts. Do I pick up a pair of scissors and put them to my thighs? Do I pick up a shot glass and drink myself into a stupor? Do I hide under my covers every night and cry until the sun rises? (Don’t worry. I promise you that the first two won’t happen.)
I’m also writing because this is the easiest way for me to share what’s going on. I don’t want to talk to people. I appreciate all the love that’s been sent my way. I’m not sure if I would still be capable of standing if I wasn’t flooded with loving messages, concerns, and promises of prayers all day. Even as I am typing this, I just received another message. And though I’m now crying again, I’m thankful.
If you are new to what’s been happening in the past two days, I’ll lay out some details.
My grandma called me in a panic at 3AM, 8/1 (thought the hospital still seemed to just consider it 7/31). My grandpa was on the ground, unconscious. I would soon find out that he also wasn’t breathing.
After hours and hours at the hospital, I’m later informed that it was because his heart stopped beating. But, they can’t figure out why. None of his arteries are completely blocked. The doctor’s exact words are that they can’t find any good reason as to why this happened.
How did this happen? Though not exactly in any shape to be running marathons or doing backflips, my grandfather wasn’t particularly sick. He’s 89, so there are obviously the practically inevitables of age, but aside from that, in decent enough health. His only conditions were diabetes and high blood pressure.
I saw him just this past Saturday.
I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
He was fine. How could this have happened? How could the heart of a man who was perfectly fine just suddenly fail him?
And this is one of the many things that make this all the more difficult, all the more painful. The suddenness of it all. The unexpectedness of it all. That I didn’t stay longer on Saturday. That I didn’t know that it would be the last time I have a two-way interaction with him. That I should have whipped out all the money in my pockets and given it to him, because that would have made him laugh and smile, rather than refusing (but ultimately taking) the pocket money he pulled out to give me. That as soon as Kevin got off work Sunday, I should have asked him to go see my grandparents together.
And if anyone is wondering if I’m actually writing this, composed, well, I’m not.
His heart stopping means no oxygen flow. That means brain damage. Tonight, I was told that the first instance ended up leaving a lot of damage.
Yes. The first instance. Because, his heart stopped again last night and they performed a cardiac compression. But, another stop. No oxygen. More damage.
Yesterday, we at least got some movements from him. Towards the end of our visit, his eyelids were moving slightly and we saw some movement in his fingers and toes. Today, my mom didn’t get any of that. His eyes were rolled back.
What life is there to live, even if he somehow, somehow, recovered? So, we told them if his heart stops again, that we want to let him go. The resident tonight told us that he thinks that’s the best choice, the humane choice, the right decision in terms of what’s best for grandpa.
Until then, he’s kept on the ventilator and his medications. We need time to prepare ourselves to officially say goodbye. Even though we know he won’t open his eyes, that he won’t speak a word to us, we want to be able to grab his hand and sit by his side until God says it’s time.
But God, I beg you. Give us some time. Give us enough time to be a little more prepared, because we were not prepared for these two days. Because, if you take him tonight, I think I might die with him. Because I cannot bear the crushing weight of that loss. Because my mother will crumble. So, please, please, please, give us just a little bit of time. Just enough so I can be ready (as ready as possible, anyways) to say goodbye.
This is not my first goodbye. This is not even the first grandparent whom I loved deeply that I had to say goodbye, too. But my grandmom (from my dad’s side) wasn’t a huge part of my life. She was around for a bit when I was young, then returned to Korea. I saw her during my first trip to Korea. She had dementia. She had a picture of her and me (I recognized it because I used to love that picture. We have a copy of it in an album at home.) next to her bed, but she didn’t know who I was when I was in front of her. My aunt pointed at the picture and said that the big girl standing in front of her is the same little girl in that picture by her bed.
But this one hurts one hundred, one thousand, one million times more.
Isn’t it odd, and also quite terrifying, the way we still need to live life? I still need to get up tomorrow morning, brave traffic, and go to work. There is still laundry to be done. There are funeral details to start thinking. There is family to contact. There are dishes to be washed, stomachs to be fed. I cannot sit at my cubicle all day and cry.
After being updated about the what happened overnight by my mom via phone, I fought tears all day at work. I had to remove myself multiple times because at times, all the guilt I currently carry was too much to push down until I was completely alone.
Why didn’t I visit more often? Why didn’t I call more? Why didn’t I yell at him less? Why didn’t I take more pictures with him? Why didn’t I tell him I love him more?
He’s going before he gets to see me get married – something he hoped for so badly.
Is it God’s work that for the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking about my grandparents and their eventual deaths? I was scared earlier this year that my grandpa might have Alzheimer’s. My grandma has been through a lot with messed up medications and her unforgiving legs that keep teasing her with swelling. Though again, not particularly sick, I can see them aging. And it started to hit me harder and harder this year.
And I frequently begged God in the past 5 years to let them live to see me get married – both their wishes. And in the recent weeks, I admit, I wanted to not be unmarried when time came to start letting them go.
Because, though God is the one to ultimately depend on, and I have support all around me, I wanted a partner to count on in the ways you only count on a spouse. Because, I knew it would be hard. Because I know I don’t do well with pain normally. Because I know that I don’t like to tell people I’m hurting.
And I’m angry. At God? I’m not quite sure. But at myself? Immensely. And it will take a whole lot of strength and a whole lot of time to forgive myself.
I look at my mom and my brother weeping. I look at my grandma, sapped of all her strength. I worry about her for when she no longer has his company. I can hardly breathe at the thought. The sorrow is suffocating, reluctant to loosen its grip around my throat.
And, I question myself as a believer for this sorrow, for this weeping from my own self. Should I be this broken when I know God is merely taking him home, where he will no longer feel pain, where he no longer needs his walker and quick breaks every handful of steps, where he can finally have his full vision back and be able to see God’s kingdom and glory with clear eyes? Should I be this broken when I know I’ll one day be by his side, praising, laughing, running together?
I don’t know. I will be honest. I’m under this impression that I shouldn’t be crying like this. That I shouldn’t be so terrified of the moment he’s truly gone from this world. Yet, I am. I am so terrified. I mourn the time in between now and our reunion. I mourn the reality of his eventual absence in my earthly life. And even the mere thought is more than my heart can currently handle.
At the risk of being redundant, I’ll say it again.
If you have been praying for us, thank you. If you are only finding this out now, thank you for sticking with me through this post and I ask that you start keeping us in your prayers as well.
I’m not good at asking for help. I’m not good at telling people I’m hurting and in what ways.
But I am in pain. My family is in pain. I am terrified. We are tired. I hate admitting it, but I cannot stand on my two feet on my own right now. So, remind me from time-to-time that I don’t have to stand alone.