I’m not writing this blog post to elicit sympathy. I’m writing about this because I think we all need a reminder, every once in a while, that our time here on this earth is precious and short.
Meme is the anglicization of the French word, “memere”. It means, simply, “grandmother”. I, my brother, and all of my cousins lost our grandmother last night (December 17, 2017).
I’m not very good at handling death…mostly because I haven’t had to deal with it often. Sure, I’ve lost beloved pets. I lost a great-uncle, who I absolutely adored, in 2016. I’ve lost cancer buddies. And, still, this loss hurts me all the way down to my soul.
The last time I saw my grandmother was in December of 2016. I visited her in the hospital, but not too long after that visit I was diagnosed with relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). I started cancer treatment right away and my immune system became a roller coaster. I spent more of 2017 neutropenic (without a functioning immune system) than not, and I couldn’t visit my grandmother in the nursing home like that. Public places are dangerous places for those of us with deficient immune systems…but I still feel terrible that I didn’t see her more often.
I feel even worse that I won’t be able to attend her funeral services because my new immune system still isn’t strong enough to handle close or large gatherings.
I have spent this morning trying to summon good memories of my grandmother. I remember her taking us grandkids down to the river to go swimming on hot summer days. She used to let us brush her hair when she was babysitting us. I remember one sweltering summer afternoon, there was a handful of us grandkids sitting on the steps with her eating watermelon. Meme warned us not to swallow the seeds, because, if we did, watermelons would grow in our stomachs.
Goodness, I thought I would have more time to see her again. In a few months, maybe, after I reached day 100 post-transplant.
I waited too long.
The only comfort I have now—besides my memories—is knowing that she is no longer suffering. She is in a far better place.