On May 14th, 2008, my grandmother died.
Her name was Ruth Elizabeth, and I called her Gran. When I was little, and we would go home to visit her, she used to take me out to A&W for breakfast and then we would paint our toenails. It was our tradition. I loved her more than anyone in the world, and to be completely honest with you, I still do. She is probably one of my greatest role models.
When I was in grade six, Gran was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had the Whipple procedure done, and had radiation and chemotherapy treatment done. All of her hair fell out, and she lost a lot of weight, but to me, she was still absolutely beautiful. Our whole family went on a cruise the next year – my family, my mum’s sister’s family, my grandparents and some friends of theirs. I found out later that it was because my parents weren’t sure how much time we had left. You see, pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis, with less than five percent of those diagnosed living five years after the diagnosis. In grade seven, I shaved my head for cancer research, so that hopefully, that stat could be changed someday.
For a while, everything seemed to be fine. Gran had to take a bunch of medication, and she had digestion troubles because of the Whipple surgery, but the cancer was gone. I let my guard down, I think. And then, a few years ago, the cancer came back. Gran wasn’t strong enough to undergo another surgery, so they tried some more treatment, but at the end of April last year, she got really sick. My mum went down to be with her in the hospital.
When we got the phone call, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I had to be strong for everyone else – I phoned all of the people that needed to know we wouldn’t be making our appointments for the next little while, I let the schools know, and I walked down to my brother’s soccer practice. It was a gorgeous day.
We flew down that night. Mum told me later on that the last day, Gran was kind of drifting in and out of consciousness, but that a few hours before she passed, she called in the doctor. She thanked him for what he had done to help her. The thought of my Gran being so kind and thoughtful and gracious in her last moments with us made me break down.
After the funeral, I can remember sitting on the end of my bed, feeling absolutely horrible. My dad’s mother came in, my Nanny, and she sat down beside me and just started telling me about when she was little, during the war, and it made me feel so much better. I still don’t know why. Nanny was my lifeline that day, and hugging her made things seem a little bit better, even if they’d never be the same.
Grade ten was hard for me. The classes were fine, but every now and then it would hit me that I’d never see Gran again, and it was just horrible. I also realised that I’m not straight, and that’s fine with me, but I haven’t been able to trust anyone with that knowledge, so it was another weight to bear. My mother’s friends have also been impacted by cancer this past year, and my uncle passed away shortly after my Gran did, so it has been pretty hard on my family.
This summer, Nanny was going to come visit us. I was really excited to see her – it’s hard to go for months without seeing people you love. But, around 15 years ago, Nanny had a kidney transplant. It worked well, except she’s had to be on a lot of medication since then. This summer, her medications started doing funny things, and she started reacting to their effects. In August, she had a stroke. My father went down to stay with her, and my mum and sister went down a few days later. I stayed on my own in the house for a week, and my brother stayed with a friend, until the 30th. That was the day that my mum phoned to say that Nanny had gone.
As corny as it sounds, I was positively devastated. We flew down that night, my brother and I, and the funeral was a few days later. The wake was held in the same room as Gran’s had been, and I learned a lot about my Nanny that I had never known before. She was cremated and placed in the columberium directly across from Gran.
The past month has felt like shit. I miss Nanny so much, and it still hasn’t fully sunk in that she’s gone forever. I’ve got a semi-crush on one of my best friends, and I can’t tell anyone in my intimate circle because some nasty homophobic comments have been made by some of the people that I thought I could trust. My mum’s best friend, one of my closest adult friends, is going in for a double mastectomy on Monday morning. I kind of want to hide in a corner somewhere.
So I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. It’s just been a little rough.
But, I’ve got an appointment with a counsellor next week, and I’m going to make cookies. We’ll get through this. Just please, don’t be offended if I don’t post much. I’ll try to start up with Grace in Small Things, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to focus on anything to do with this blog.
I love you guys.