Grandpa is dying on such a beautiful day.
On hindsight, it was quite sudden, his deterioration so quick. Gramps had been admitted to hospital for a whole host of problems, none of which ended up being the trigger to his turn for the worst. He had been admitted for a mild stroke, which he had recovered and showed no signs of long-term effect, came down with a bout of infection while he was in hospital, and complained of a back pain. He was discharged for a while, keeping to a drip dose of antibiotics for his infection. Then he pulled out his drip and had to be re-admitted for a day to put it back. I waited with grandma 3 hours for a ward for gramps. We bonded. He was back home the next day, only, ever since he returned from the hospital, he hadn’t been sleeping well. He kept groaning, sleep talking, grinding his teeth. He always sounded like he was in pain and we couldn’t make out what he was saying. Mum says he could have been traumatised and disoriented from the hospital stay. He kept grandma up all night; she’s a light sleeper. He would groan in the day too, as if he hurt, but when we asked him where the pain was or why he yelled, he couldn’t tell us where it hurt, he didn’t know he had yelled. His back pain got worse. Back to the hospital. He has a spine infection. His bone was infected. Something sat on his nerve. Operation wasn’t a guaranteed success. Not that we really wanted to, he was too old. He would have to live with it. Pain was better than possible death in the operating theatre. But he was in pain. He was always in pain now. After dinner, he took a nap. After the nap, he choked and he couldn’t stop. They tried to suck out whatever was choking him. They only got a bit out. His heart stopped. They did CPR and got it back up after 20 mins. He was moved to the ICU. His heart stopped for 5 mins a couple of hours later. And his left lung collapsed early the next morning. In the afternoon, he was showing signs of brain death, or brain dying. He was having spasms. The brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen. The scan showed that the brain damage wasn’t as extensive, but gramps still wasn’t waking up. They took him off the sedatives, off the heart medicine. His heart was beating for itself. We were hopeful. They put him on dialysis, hoping the lowering of his toxins would help him wake up.
He hasn’t woken up.
It was so quick, how he had been warded and treated to help him get better, to him being warded with nothing to be done.
He’s old. He’s not going to make it.
We’ve been popping in and out of the hospital, visiting everyday, consulting doctors, receiving relatives, mostly grandma’s siblings for whom grandpa had been something of an older brother to them. It was like Chinese New Year family reunion came early in a very warped way.
Days have turned to just stretches of hours, never ending hour after hour. It’s just dread, and I want it to end, except that the end of this would mean gramps’ passing. Longest week ever.
It’s tiring. It’s a mental roller coaster. Some days gramps seems to be responding, some days he deteriorates. I don’t dare to be hopeful when good news comes. But even a drop of water in a desert land will make you crave for a well, a river. You just want that hope. Although there is nothing to hope for. He’s old. It’s gonna happen. Even if not now, in this episode, some time in the near future. And I’m not sure I want to go through this again. It’s selfish of me, maybe.
I realise that knowing what is to come and being mentally prepared doesn’t mean I won’t feel grief and I won’t feel sad. I have and I will be. All part of life.
I can’t imagine having to experience everyone else around me dying someday. I feel like there should be a limit to how much death someone experiences. Maybe I’ll be so used to it it won’t hurt so much.
Death is getting an added dimension in my head. I’ve only ever experienced two deaths of “distant” relatives and each death is becoming increasingly closer to my little world. Gramps would be the first one to make a mark, I think.
Death is getting an added dimension in my life. All this time, it had only been literary, a concept. I know what it is, I know it will come. Everyone poeticises it. The dead become committed to poetic memory and the real person who has died becomes the shadow. Now, death is a thing, the expiration of a physical body, by which the soul cannot be anchored to this world anymore. Death becoming more defined means life weighs more too. Everything is deeper.
When it started to sink in, this loss that is to come, I cried to God and I think back on the episodes of death in the Bible, what it meant at the moment, in that point in time. Death gets thrown around a lot, so easily and so lightly. Jesus died for you. What does that mean anymore? Death being treated lightly means his victory over death has lost some of its meaning too.
At first, I thought “Jesus, you wouldn’t know what it feels like” because he’d died at thirty-three, before even the death of his parents, I think. But I remember Lazarus, one of Jesus’ friends who had died, and how the shortest verse in the Bible was Jesus’ sorrow. Jesus wept. Jesus wept for Lazarus. He wept with Lazarus’ sisters and shared in their grief. Even though he would raise Lazarus 5 minutes later. Jesus sharing in their grief was so intentional. He meant to experience that, the pain of death of a loved one, although he had the power and would resurrect Lazarus.
I confess to treating the resurrection lightly too. When death isn’t hovering about, resurrection doesn’t either. And now, even though I know gramps is going with God to Heaven, even though I know that and how good that is, death still seems so absolute and final and big and scary. Death still seems so awful. I think this is the suspension of the “what is done” and the “what is to come”. Resurrection has been granted; it was finished at the cross. But the earth still isn’t what it was meant to be, not until Christ comes again. And all the time between that, is now. So even though I know I’ll meet gramps in Heaven someday again, with God, with him in a healthy new body, it still hurts now.
Looking into that future is the only thing that comforts me now, and it’s something to look forward too and hope for. Hope isn’t really an empty wishing of something to happen anymore. Hope is more like the anticipation of something I know is going to happen. That’s why I can’t hope in gramps’ recovery. Him staying alive is no longer something I know. His death is what I know, his going home to be with God is what I know.
I look at the adults, my folks, uncle, grandaunts and granduncles, and realise that everyone is dying everyday. Everyone is getting old everyday. And how temporal this physical life is. Literally shedding, moulting, like sand, as time passes. What will be left then? Their souls, not their bodies, so fallible, so physical. It is the soul.
Jam came across this verse which articulated it so well:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor 4:16-18
Really reminded of how we are just travellers, and how this earth is not our home.
Death, even though we know it’s coming with every birth, even though we know it as a certainty, still looms in come way or another, the sadness of a very long separation from a love one with no way of getting around it still shakes us up. Because I really believe, somewhere deep inside of us, we were meant for some kind of eternity. That’s why death still seems so wrong and broken and not meant to be. That someone should just cease to be because his body wears out. That’s wrong, somehow, in my head anyway. If nothing is eternal, nothing means anything.
11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart
So I’ve been working on Harry Potter for thesis, and this quote comes to mind too
“Look, if I picked up a sword right now, Ron, and ran you through with it, I wouldn’t damage your soul at all.”
Hermione, explaining the difference between a Horcrux, which depends on it’s enchanted physical container for the survival of the soul fragment, to a human being (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
And that’s just it with death. The soul would still be intact. The soul is what matters at the end of our physical stay, our impending deaths.
Death is scary because it wasn’t meant to be, but thank goodness we don’t have to stay dead.
Pastors have come round to pray, some for miraculous healing, some for a painless passing on, but everyone committing it to God’s good will. His will be done.
Bro and I went to visit today, first day of Chinese New Year, and we prayed for him. We couldn’t do it in Chinese though. We are as close to gramps as far as our language barrier lets us lelel. We were also just so amazed at how finely tuned the body is. Gramps is hooked up to several machines now, to help him breathe and to give him food and so on. All these big complicated machines running his body, doing what a healthy body can do for itself, with all its organs packed neatly and doing their jobs. Idk how anyone can think there was no designer to this designed body. The machines and technology are so advanced enough to extend gramps’ life by running his physical body, but they can’t do more than that either. Life, is really a gift from God. Amazed. Throughout all this chaos, watching how all the doctors are doing their best to keep gramps running, I can’t help feeling amazed at this anyways.
One thing I do like about the whole thing is how people come together, rally together. How family members come round, take time off to spend with my granny, bringing food, sharing stories and jokes. Caring, y’know. Bro’s secondary friends actually came to visit gramps too. They brought paus and everything and asked after granny, keeping their prayers with us. People have been so kind and understanding. Jam has been a mint. She lets me update her on gramps’ fluctuating condition throughout the week in addition to her own life stresses. Cray.
Just needed to get all this out of the system. It may get worse when he does pass on. I half feel like pouring out my woes and half not writing at all so this will have to do for now. Donch really know how to function. If I try to be productive, I feel like I should be sad. Is that weird. And then when I’m actually sad, I can’t function. I don’t know what I should aim for in how I’m suppose to feel/think. Just not wanting to be too sad for now. And then be really sad later on for a while. And then start picking up the pieces to move along again. Is that a good plan