Grief Doesn’t Have a Time Limit

Tonight we brought our extra (our girl) home with us. Her school is on fall break this week so on a Thursday night she can come home with us and it’s no big deal. I thought we were going to watch football when we got home (Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech), but they all decided we should watch/listen to YouTube instead.

All three kids and Chris had ideas of what songs we should listen to. Chris turned on the first song. I said Jaidyn could pick the next song, and then Connor and then Cameron. (Honestly it was just the way they got to me.) However sometimes YouTube turns the next song on and you just have to listen to it.

When it got to Jaidyn’s second time to pick she asked for “Drink a Beer.” Most people know it because Luke Bryan sings it. I know Chris Stapleton wrote it and also sings it so that was the version we listened to.

In case you don’t know it about my three kids, they have all had so many people they love die. And Jaidyn asked for the song because she was thinking about one of those people who all five of us loved.

YouTube knows how we normally listen to music so they took us “Broken Halos” next. So how could we change it? And then because we were neck deep in “people we love have died” Chris as an adult got to throw his pick in next. He said since we were this far in he wanted Brooks and Dunn’s “Believe” which is our Grandpa John song.

Everyone understands that Dad gets to pick a song and then Connor’s song is next. No big deal. And then I watch Connor run to my bedroom. Thinking the other two kids were jerks, I follow to find out what’s going on and who’s in trouble. I find Connor sitting on the floor, his back against my dresser and tears running down his cheeks.

I sat down next to him and asked him what happened. He said, “Why did you have to play that?!” Honestly, I thought he was mad that he didn’t get to pick the song. I told him when it was over he got to pick the next song. That just made him cry harder and made him mad at me. I told him I was sorry but I didn’t know what was wrong.

He leaned into me and said, “I miss Grandpa John so much.” My heart broke and I felt like such a jerk all at the same time. I thought of all the times that I’ve sat and cried (normally on my husband’s lap) over these past three years. And let me tell you, regularly I sit on my husband’s lap and he holds me while I cry about how much I miss my grandpa. (Not the point of this but important enough to say I have an amazing husband.)

Connor told me repeatedly that he misses Grandpa John. He told me how mad he was that we played that song that makes him think about Grandpa and reminds him how much he misses Grandpa. We talked about how we all miss Grandpa John. I told Connor how proud Grandpa would be of him. How Grandpa is with Jesus and because Connor loves Jesus someday we will be with Grandpa again, but Grandpa wants us to live long full lives.

We laughed about how Connor is almost as tall as Grandpa John because the year before Grandpa died I broke my right foot. For my last doctor’s appointment Grandpa stayed at my house with the boys and Grandma drove me to the doctor. Apparently while we were gone the boys showed Grandpa the papers taped to the wall where I measured the boys. Connor was already taller than the 48 inches so I had taped a blue paper to the wall above it. Grandpa was taller than that paper reached but he made a line at the top of the paper and wrote Grandpa John for the boys. What seemed super tall to them at the time is almost their current height.

We laughed at all the “naughty” stuff Grandpa used to do with my boys. The three of them were always looking for trouble. We talked about how Grandpa wants Connor to live a long and good life.

Even though I know Connor has seen my tears, we talked about the times that I need to sit and cry and how that’s okay. Some times we miss Grandpa so much we need to cry about it, but someday we will be back together again. And it’s okay to be sad. There’s not a time limit on our sadness.

Honestly I sometimes forget how much my boys miss my grandpa. They probably miss him as much as I do. They did so much together. And sometimes we all just need to sit and cry about it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. Connor and I cried together for a little bit. Then we wiped our faces, stood up, and went back to the living room. We both just needed that little break tonight to remember a man we both loved so much.If you are missing someone today, don’t let people tell you that you should be over it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. One month, three months, one year, three years, ten years it doesn’t matter. Your grief is yours. And while you continue to live, you don’t “get over” losing someone you love. It’s okay to cry for your lose. We still cry for ours.

I wasn’t ready for this

It’s starting to feel like I only write when I’m asking for people to give or when something bad has happened. And let’s be honest, today fits right into that mold.

I used to talk to my mom on the phone every day. She would call me on her way home from work, and we would chat for that 15 minute drive. Then my brother started working with her and since they live 1/2 mile apart, they started carpooling most days. That meant that my mom only called me on days when my brother wasn’t with her. It was hard (annoying) at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Normally on Tuesdays my brother rides with my mom so I was obviously surprised when my phone rang around 5 and it was my mom. She thought she was so funny telling me how sorry she was that she wouldn’t be able to see us the next day. She was sorry that I decided we wouldn’t be able to see her. (Wednesdays weather permitting the boys and I go to my mom’s house to spend time with Grandma Jo and then see my parents. The weather is a lot less permitting in the winter that the other 3 seasons.) Finally asked why “I” decided we couldn’t go over. My dad and Grandma Jo were both sick with the flu. We talked the rest of her drive home and said good-bye when she pulled in the garage. It should be a few days until I talked to her again.

You can’t imagine my surprise, my shock, my panic when about an hour later my phone rang and the caller ID showed my mom’s name. I had been messing around on Facebook and answered on the first ring. She doesn’t call me at night. My phone should not have rang.

My mom was a mess and the strongest she’s even been when I answered the phone. She said, “I think Grandma had a stroke. The ambulance came and got her. I’m on my way to the hospital.”

I can’t even tell you my reaction. I got this same call 2 years ago, but this time is worse because I know how that story ended. The last time I got this call Grandpa had brain cancer and died. And that was hard and I didn’t want to lose Grandpa. I wasn’t ready for that, but I’m really not ready to lose Grandma.

And as broken as I felt, I held it together. I got the information Mom needed to give me. I was strong for her. I hung up the phone, told my husband what happened and took 1 minute to fall apart. Then I made the calls that she needed to me to make.

They made it to the hospital and confirmed that she did have the flu. They didn’t think it was a stroke, but the flu was bad enough they were transferring her to a bigger hospital. Okay. I can do that. The flu is extra bad this year. They transferred her and did an MRI and EKG the next morning. She has the flu, and it was a stroke.

If you know anything about my grandma, you know she is so ready to be in Heaven with my grandpa. She’s been telling us all since Grandpa died that she just wants to be with him. So my first thoughts with all of this is that she was just going to give up. I’m not ready to lose her. That may be super selfish, but I need her for just a little bit longer.

But the one thing she wants more than to be with Grandpa is to not be a burden on her family so she keeps fighting. The location in the brain where her stroke was just affected mobility on the right side. It didn’t affect her memories or attitude or personality. She is as ornery ever. Her speech is slow and affected, but she makes jokes with the doctors that they don’t get.

Grandma and Grandpa always thought that she would die first. They planned for that. We know she has an aneurysm in her brain. Any day it could move and kill her. But it hasn’t. This week we learned things about her heart. It is bad when your aorta is enlarged. At 3cm they do surgery. Grandma’s aorta is 6cm. That makes your heart pump too fast and, instead of sending the blood out faster, your heart is pumping too fast and the blood can’t get out of the heart and instead pools around in your heart and starts clotting and that clot is what caused Grandma’s stroke.

We’ve been told that with the kind of stroke she had that with medication there is less than a 15% of her having another stroke. I guess if you must have a stroke, it’s the best kind you could have. Although that information came before we knew how swollen her aorta is.

Mostly we are being told that with rehab, Grandma will get back 60% mobility on her right side. She will be able to walk, but she will probably have to use a walker. They want to do heart surgery eventually. It’s hard for some people to understand but she is looking for quality of life over quantity. She’s been ready for Heaven for 2 years.

So today I’m feeling the same feelings I had 2 years ago. I feel selfish and guilty. I want Grandma to live, to be healthy and strong and for us to have years more of Wednesday visits. But I don’t get to make these decisions. I don’t get to pick. And my mom sits at the hospital all day and I think I should be doing something, but there is literally nothing I can do. Even if I drove to the hospital, they wouldn’t let me and the boys in.

So it’s all in God’s hands. And I pray for His will. For the right thing. If He chooses for us to have her longer I will rejoice in that and if He chooses for her to be with Grandpa, I will mourn for our lose, for the world’s lose, but rejoice in knowing that she is with Grandpa.

If you, dear readers, would pray for my family. The selfish part of me wants you to pray for healing and the unselfish part asks for you to pray that His will be done. Either way pray for Grandma to be at peace and for God to be with us all.