Have you ever held on to something and felt like you were out of control? Like it was just out of reach… Ever so slowly, slipping out of your hands?
I thought I would feel that for the first time last week as I held on to my Omi’s hand as she lay motionless, helpless in her hospital bed in Cold Lake, Alberta. I did my best to pull out the golden-boy grandson routine of sheer comedic relief, but truth be told it was all a defence mechanism for me. I’ve never really experienced an up-close and personal encounter with the imminent signs of death and a loved one before. I mean, kind of back in 2010 when my dad ended up in the hospital over night from an aortic aneurysm. But hell, my now ex and I just showed up that Sunday morning by his bedside as he came to from the anaesthesia of post-surgery. It wasn’t as real as holding on to a hand that you’ve known all your life to give you all the support and love you could handle as a child. To hold on to that and to fear the moment when that grip finally slipped away… that was real. That, ironically is life.
However, I didn’t experience it.
My apparent good-willed humour and the presence of other loved ones such as my mother must have given Omi a renewed lease on life. A reminder as to why she was still kickin’. At 86 years old, she’s had one helluva time through the thick and the thin alongside my Opa, who is quite possibly the greatest man on this planet. Sure, they squabble, as any married couple will, but their undying love for one another was grossly magnified during the last week. A week I hadn’t prepared for and certainly didn’t expect to come out much wiser, stronger and empowered from.
I learned that the healing power of touch is awesomely underestimated. We went up to Cold Lake on Monday expecting to say farewell to my mother’s mother. Instead, our thoughtfulness, our compassion and our love incited a passion in Omi to hold on and stick around until next time we get to visit (which for my folks looks like about a month). And that’s okay. At this time, mini goals are all it takes. One step at a time. Day by day. One hospital meal of crushed ice and orange antibiotics at a time…
Make a plan. It’s there for you to use as a guide if nothing else. Clearly my Omi’s plan changed when we got there this past week. Eff, was she ever surprised. When you make a plan at least you can go off the grid a bit when you want to. Shake things up and understand the power of your presence around everyone, loved or not in your day to day interactions. The impact you have with the silliest things such as touch goes a really long way.
Thanks for hearing me out. And thanks for sharing