April: The power of love II

Goodbye (part II) by Bettina Bonkas

Story in two parts. 2nd part:

When granny was in hospital again, she called me in England. Something she’d never done before. She informed me that the doctors had found out the reason for her back ache. She had cancer in one of her ribs. Bone cancer. From that day on she was different. She was loving, I could already tell on the phone, and I really got to love her. I decided to interrupt my time in England and go back to Germany and do some jobbing. Often I went to see granny and our relationship became closer and closer. Then, that week came, in which everything went super quickly. On Monday her doctor told her that all treatment options had been exhausted. A couple of days later, on Thursday, she together with her sons had an appointment with her doctor in which he told them that they’d better quickly look for a place in a hospice as she only had a couple of weeks to live.

That was a real blow and somehow we didn’t realize it really. It was only on the following Monday that I called hospices in our area. Although I had to work, I really took my time, it was for granny. I called her every day and I realized that love had replaced a sense of duty. That was very powerful. She thanked me every day for my phone call which really touched me.”

Lara gulped before she went on. “Every day things became worse. Granny was now hardly eating anymore. She only drank those Nurishment drinks of which she only drank two a day and then she even stopped doing that. It really hurt to see how my once stout granny disappeared in front of our eyes. At first it was to be seen monthly, then weekly and in the end daily. She became weaker and weaker and her stoma bag really tortured her, more than ever. It leaked pretty often because she was too skinny and now she was even too weak to tidy up the mess. That was awful for my granny who always used to be so clean. Did you notice that she even at her age looked like a model?”

The nursing service was great but of course they didn’t have all the time in the world. The palliative team tried to soothe her pain but there’s no remedy against weakness. My granny who’d always been so proud of her independence became more and more dependent from other people. Well, and then she came to you. At first family and friends came to see her, then it was just Dad and his brother who were with her every day. It was so intensive. She enjoyed being with them so much, weak as she was, she even threatened to send them thunder and lightning, should they argue with each other. Then, it was just my dad who said his final goodbye and then his brother.  I think, granny was so happy that her sons were with her in such a loving way during her illness. She didn’t always have a good relationship to her other son either and dad suffered from ill-health himself, he had a chronic fatigue syndrome. I’m so happy that we’ve found to each other. It was like in a kitschy film: dad and his brother are getting on better again, both were there for their mum in a very loving way, and at the end there was the big happy ending, everybody was connected in deep love to each other. A kitschy film couldn’t have been any better.

Why, oh why didn’t we get a second chance, like with grandad and gran back then? Why did everything had to go so quickly? Only seven months.”

Lara sobbed heavily. The nurse gently stroked her back. She was silent for a while before she responded to Lara.

I got to know your grandmother as a very determined woman who, ill and weak as she was, knew very well what she wanted and what not. In doing so she always seemed very proud and she was very much present. Yes, everything went very quickly, but for me it shows that you, together as a family, did everything well, in a very beautiful way. You’ve found to each other and you said your goodbyes to your grandmother with lots of love. She could pass away in peace, and most important, in love. I don’t think that, weakened as she was, she would have wanted to go on living. And I think, you’ve given so much more to her than you can imagine.”

Lara smiled at her with tears in her eyes. Later, she went into her granny’s room again and now she could feel why she didn’t want to touch her: That wasn’t her granny anymore. That was only her physical shell. She reminded her of her grandad, that was what he looked like a week after his death. Her granny had left her ill body in no time. That was typical of her, she had always been a decisive person. Lara left her granny’s room feeling calm. She decided not to wait for her parents, it would take them at least another quarter of an hour. She would go tot hem later. Now she needed some time for herself.

After a day of relief – her granny was not in pain anymore and the tension of the last months had come to an end – she experienced some tough days. Her feelings had an intensity whose like she had never before felt.  Emptiness overcame her; her goal of the past months was away all of a sudden. On top of it she felt guilty: “Why didn’t she extend a hand to her granny earlier? She also didn’t really appreciate how generous she’d always been towards her: She only had €3 to 4 for food per day.” She was stricken by humbleness but also by shame and self-reproach. Lara didn’t know what was going on with her, her feelings were really intense. But then she remembered the nurse’s words and she felt calmer.

Intuitively, she started talking to her granny. The timeswhen she bore grudges against her didn’t seem to be important anymore. Lara became aware that death turned the spotlight on what was really important in life. It was only their mutual, connecting love that was important. And Lara also felt her granny with an intensive love and warmth in her everyday life. She also became aware how her granny shone through her: She had her sense of beauty and like her, she had an eye for it. At the same time she noticed how the love, she had prayed for in August, had made her a more loving person. Consciously, she had practiced a body exercise to fill her chest with air in a way to widen her heart and thinking. She especially had done this exercise when she had felt that she had become narrow: physically and mentally. She was overwhelmed by what she felt inside her – it felt very good. She hoped very much that she would be able to keep going this, especially when everyday life would hit again.

Lara had learned something very important for her life: There is always something beautiful in sad times, no light without shadow. Yes, their relationship could have been better before but sometimes hurt feelings are too painful. Forgiving means healing for the one who forgives. But often the one who forgives is not free from guilt themselves. And therefore she was very grateful for the beautiful twist of fate that they all lived to see together. How sad would a goodbye have been on bad terms or even no goodbye at all?

With a new determination, she decided to study interior design. Life seemed easier and clearer now to her. with Easter ahead, Lara could feel that something new was arising. She looked forward to sharing her plans with her parents.