Twenty years seems to have gone by in a blink of an eye. Yet strangely it seems so distant.
Monday March 17, 1997 my grandmother went to her doctor after months of avoiding it (she abhorred going to the doctor). I was working two part time jobs at the time through a clerical temp agency. I remember getting home from work and wondering where she was, because she wasn’t home from the Dr yet and her appointment was earlier in the day so I assumed she wouldn’t still be out running errands. I asked my granddad where she was and he told me the admitted her into the hospital.
The next week was a whirlwind. They said she had lung cancer. (I begged and pleaded until she quit smoking when I was about 10 years old). On Wednesday they started her on morphine. She went from being feisty and talkative ready to go home to sedated and deteriorating. It was extremely difficult to see this strong woman who raised me and never slowed down lying there not able to move or speak.
I went to see her on Friday and had to push through my denial and realize what was happening. I still was not ready to face facts but I had no choice.
Saturday was my godson’s birthday party so I didn’t visit her that day.
Sunday I went and spent all day with her. That is when I realized I had to start making phone calls. I took a nap with her just like when I was a kid and while she was not responsive due to heavy sedation, I talked to her and told her I loved her and laid next to her holding her.
I went to the movies that night with my friend April, it was Batman Returns. I remember sitting in the theater and I got a chill that made me kinda jump at a part when there was no action going on in the movie. My friend stayed the night with me that night, probably because she assumed I needed someone there.
The next morning I woke up and I was at the top of the stairs about to head down when my granddad came to the bottom of the stairs and said, “You’re up”, and I am not sure what exchange was after that but he then said, “It happened”. I collapsed at the top of the stairs and began sobbing. April came out of my room and held me.
I was two weeks shy of 20, just learning “me” and how to navigate this world. She was my shield, my force field that protected me. Though I was a very headstrong teenager she made sure I stayed on the right path.
I still ache sometimes as though it just happened. I miss her, and my grandfather, so much sometimes it is overwhelming. My world shattered, my reality altered when my Bigma passed. My grandfather passing 7 years later left me empty. I have been lost ever since.
Twenty years, and I still yearn for her comfort, her protection.
I love you Bigma and I am so thankful for you and Granddad
Madie Ruth Smith
7.19.1921 – 3.24.1997