"They're rushing grandma to the ICU," she said over the phone, trying hard to hide the panic in her voice. But I know that voice. It's the voice that protects me, her daughter, from hurting. Or being afraid. She's perfected that voice in 25 years because that's what she does, protect her children. But I heard that voice when I was 19 years old and my childhood cat had been put to sleep. I heard it two weeks later when grandpa died.
He's with your kitty now, she tried to tell me. It's OK.
But "they" are the doctors at the hospital, where my grandma's been since yesterday with a fever that won't subside. Today it was discovered an abscess on her liver is causing her stomach to swell, putting too much pressure on her lungs. They rushed her to the intensive care unit.
She's tired, she told my mom. She's tired of being tired. She signed a DNR order. Do not resuscitate.
So I'm sitting here with a half-gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream in my lap, blogging about my grandma, who doesn't want to be resuscitated. The ice cream replaced my fingernails, and I find it a bit more comforting than raw fingertips.
There's nothing you can do, Mom said. She'll be fine. I'll call you when I know something.
In a half-hour, they're taking her into surgery, where the abscess will be drained and where, we hope, her condition will improve. And yet I wonder why I'm sitting here, alone, rather than driving the two hours to be there. Home is safe. At home there aren't monitors beeping and IVs pumping. No one's crying at home. Well, except me. But at home there's ice cream.
I'm afraid of death. I'm afraid of people dying. I'm afraid of the feeling that it's too late. I haven't seen my grandma since the day after my wedding, and even then, I wonder if I told her I loved her. I know I did, but does she know it?
Nearly six years ago when my grandpa died, I stood outside the visitation, clutching my dad's hand, sobbing into his shoulder. I couldn't go in. I couldn't see my grandpa in that casket because why was he there? Why doesn't he wake up? Why is this the last memory I had to have?
I want everything to turn out OK, because I don't like not OK. I don't like the thought of losing, again, someone who's role in life was so much a part of my own role. But for now, I'll wait, because that's all I can do, other than love her.