Yesterday afternoon, I received word from my girlfriend that her great grandmother, who was 94, had passed away. She had been unable to speak and do most routine functions since suffering a stroke a few years ago. Her final days were spent hooked up to a respirator.
One thing I’ve learned about my girlfriend in the two years we’ve dated is that her family is THE MOST important thing to her. She regularly visits them and is in attendance for every major function they have (and there are plenty). Just about every time we traveled together, she made it a point to stop by to see her great grandmother.
On Tuesday, it became obvious that things had taken a turn for the worst. We had a pre-July 4th celebration after bible study and as I was cleaning up, one of my friends informed me that I needed to check on my girlfriend. I was clueless as to what he was talking about since, last I checked, she was fine. I turned around to discover her crying and that was when she broke the news. She had just received a call from her folks explaining that they were making preparations for what to put into the obituary.
Thankfully, my pastor’s wife, who is like a second mother to her, was there to console her and let her know that her grandmother wouldn’t want to live out the remainder of her life being confined to permanent medical care. She lived a full life and all of these recent circumstances were likely a sign that it was her time to go.
Of course, losing someone is never easy. Whether someone dies unexpectedly or as the result of a long battle with cancer, the feeling of loss is still the same. The bottom line is that death is never an easy pill to swallow and time is the only cure for overcoming that sense of loss.
Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I had a conversation about our grandparents. My grandfather has been dealing with some serious kidney issues as of late. My parents have taken turns on going down to spend time with him over the past month. I discussed with her that this was only the second time in my life I could recall him being in such bad condition. I realize that he is in his eighties and will not live forever. However, I want his final years to be as comfortable as possible. I believe that is how we all feel about our parents, grandparents and other elderly people in our lives.
In the midst of our conversation I bought up a line from a Madea film we saw last year. In it, Tyler Perry’s character said how the forties are one of the most stressful age periods for any person to live through. That is because it’s the age when most start to see the beginning of their parents’ physical decline. I find myself thinking about it quite often. I’m 26 and both of my parents are in their late forties. I wonder how I will feel if I’m in a situation where I would have to take care of them. I know it would be a mentally draining experience to say the least.
We are all young and full of energy, but there will come a day when we will grow old and die. That fact of life is inescapable.
Even though I’m a Christian and know that I will spend eternity in heaven, the thought of growing old and not being able to care for myself is kind of frightening.