End of an era

I don’t know where to start writing. I have had this brilliant post in my head for about two days now, and I really wanted to share it properly with you guys. But more often that preferred, it slips my mind when I am about to write it. So I just spent about 15 minutes just staring at the screen, trying to recreate that very post. Nope, not here yet.

My entire being is confused right now. I try to make sense of things, but it just doesn’t want to work. I don’t have any track of time, and I definitely have no idea what day it is unless I am told. I also have no sense of direction. While getting a much needed cup of coffee yesterday at university, I kind of got lost at the, for me, so familiar Biology department. I fricking got lost in one of my all time favorite places here. 

Before I tell you about the reason behind all of this, I need to tell the readers who don’t want to read a morbid text to click away. Go somewhere else and enjoy your internet. For those who choose to stay, thank you. 

Before my mom got her own apartment, we lived with my grandparents. Dad hadn’t caught the banana boat here yet, and so I spent a few years with my mother’s parents and siblings. I remember being told later in life, that I never wanted to live with my parents because I loved living in a huge household (my mom has 11 siblings), and I loved my grandparents above all. My dad had to bribe me with a very large aquarium and many fishes, to get me to agree to go live with them. It certainly did not help that my grandparents kept an even larger aquarium at their place. I agreed, in the end, but I still spent most nights tucked in between my grandparents. It was the best place in the world for me.

Just recently, mom told me about the countless times I would tell Chinese parents from daycare to help me cross the streets. I’d say something like: “Ma’am, could you help me cross the street? I want to go to my grandparents. I know the way, I just don’t know how to watch out for the cars on the streets.” Little toddler me never wanted to be anywhere else but with my grandparents.

Go back two years, and my grandmother is diagnosed with colon cancer. They remove most of her intestines, and she gets chemo. I remember spending every spare second by her side. I kept telling her nothing could ever happen to her, or grandpa would be left alone. She had to win this war. I knew they’d been together forever. They met when she was 14 and he was 18. I told grandpa that we were all in this together, and as the huge family we were, most of us stuck together.

Fast forward, and I became a mother. A life event that enhanced my empathy even more (it’s like I don’t have enough of it and now I get emotional over anything). A few months ago, my grandma got hospitalized again, and I was petrified. I couldn’t even imagine what grandpa must have felt. I got the dreaded news that the doctors couldn’t do much anymore. No surgery, no chemo, no nothing could help her. It hurt me beyond my senses when I visited her and saw how everyone else in the room had a CPR machine by the end of the bed, and she didn’t. She was responsive though, and eventually she was transferred to a geriatric care. She loved it there, and so did grandpa. The geriatric care was close to their house, so grandpa no longer needed to commute to another city to visit grandma. He visited several times a day, and every time he would bring her her favorite food and enjoy it with her, as they had been the past 60+ years.

Then, last Saturday, I first receive a text message from my cousin. She wonders when and where to meet, as we had decided to have lunch together. However, those plans are quickly laid aside when the messaging turns 180°. Our lunch is postponed the second she tells me her parents (her dad is my uncle) are going to see grandma. My mom calls the second I have read the last word of my cousin’s newest text message. Grandma had been unresponsive since last night, and she had yet to respond to anyone.

The Dutchman and Zoe were still asleep at the time, so I quickly jot down “Seeing grandma, phone is almost out of battery, will try to keep in touch.” And I take off. In less than an hour, I am by my beloved grandmother’s side. I’m first there, and I spend what feels like an eternity to call out for her. I repeat what I have told her the past years, telling her she just can’t leave grandpa. Other than a few tears, there is not much of a response from her. That day, I spent by her bedside for almost 7 hours. I decide to take a break, and meet a few friends to get my mind off things. It turned out to be an impossible task.

When I finally got home, I break down. I didn’t want to, but the feelings were overwhelming and I just had to let them out. For hours, I cried, and before I knew it, the clock hit 330am. I hadn’t slept in almost 20 hours. I wanted to, but my uncle calls the second my tears stop.

Somehow, I froze. I knew what to do. I knew I had to get a ride to the home. I get there, and I couldn’t help myself. That morning, my grandmother, the one person that has directly influenced me to great lengths, passed away. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to witness. I hated every second of it, but at the same time I knew I had to be there. It’d be better like that. I’d feel better, and most importantly, I would get closure. Definitely the worst morning of my life so far.

I made a promise of visiting as much as I can, but I feel now that I have failed to do so. I keep in mind that life happens, and we all make the best of it. But I feel I didn’t do enough, like I didn’t push myself to do better. I look back at the many memories I have, and I really don’t how to react. They’re precious, that’s for sure, but I really am entirely clueless of where to find the strength to be a good mom, a good partner, a good daughter, and a good student at this difficult time. This pain is tremendous. I wish I had a converter that turned it into strength so that I could study properly. I wish, but I know that it only would turn out disastrous, because that’s not how the world works.

Right now, there are three different parts of me, each standing at a different point of view in all of this grief. One where I constantly remind myself that is a long and hard process that I have to get through in order to get back to normal. Another where I simply want to cry all the time and neglect all responsibilities, and a third where I want to deny everything and move along. I hope there’s a balance to all of this. I’m confused, scared, and cold. 

The most comforting thing, second to that she passed without suffering and surrounded by family, is that I am a quarter of her and grandpa (I say 1/4 because it’s simple, I know that number is biologically incorrect). I need to engulf myself in my studies again so that I can keep up. An exam is coming up, and I feel left behind in all of this turmoil.

//c_Cae; don’t tell me to stay strong, because I am. Tell me how to process this better along with everything else that is on my plate


9 responses to “End of an era

  1. Dearest Caely,

    Don’t tell you to be strong? Wouldn’t think of it. If I know one thing it is that you are already and always will be, whether you feel that way or not.

    So, having ruled out the trite (not that I’d eve go there), what do you leave me? A question. You leave me a question that you’ve found the answer to in this post. One of the very best ways to process what is happening is to write about it. You don’t have to share it, though I am honored and glad that you did in this post, but write it down. It doesn’t have to be too organized because the purpose is to give you an outlet for the thoughts and feelings that flow like tears. If I had a rainbow for all the times I’ve typed through tears I’d have enough rainbows to send you one for each of the following days until you find your own again. Just write. You can show it to Zoe when she asks about her Great-Grandmother, and she will. You can read it each year when you’re feeling her loss more acutely and it will buoy you. Write it because the memories, which you carry in your mind (some of which you are sharing) and the love, which you carry forever in your heart, are precious. Write it all down. I guarantee you it will help.

    Your post was the best one you’ve ever written (in my limited experience) and though I know that quality writing is not what you were after and had no place in your intent, it is important to note that you did process and you did put it all very lucidly on paper and I know it helped. That having been said, in the coming days, just do what tasks you can, carve out space to grieve in, tell your teachers what you need (they will accommodate you) and breathe. Spend time with your family. Talk and cry and love and laugh and remember. Your grandmother would have wanted it that way and she’s there with you now, a part of you and Zoe and you will see her whenever you want to just by looking for her.

    Life is hard taskmaster. Like the ocean, it doesn’t care. It just is. It may be that we exist only to learn to see the beauty in the world. Perhaps our only reason for existence on this plane is to learn to love, give love, and then move on to whatever is next. I don’t know, but I do know that you are Love and through you, your beloved grandmother is still with us, and, more importantly, with you, dear Caely.

    Your blog title ought really to say, ‘Caely in the Making’ for that is what life is for all of us. We live and learn and love, each to our own capacity. You are growing, each day adds age and wisdom. Cares and woes will slip away and only the love will remain. Breathe.

    You are loved.



    • To my dear and dedicated friend,

      I can never express myself well enough to tell you how much your words mean to me. I think commenting on your blogposts of your stories in the Faroes was the best thing I’ve ever done it the sphere of blogs. I don’t remember how I got there, but I am endlessly happy that I did.

      Thank you for commenting. And thank you for reminding me why I started blogging in the first place. My blogs were never always about how to grow into a decent human being. I started out at the mere age of 16, and back then it was about all the heartbreaks a very destructive relationship gave me. From there, I learned that I always need to write things off my chest, instead of just crying my eyes out. I am glad that I’m not the only one to use writing as a way to get through the rough patches of life. I think it contributed to my love for writing, too.
      I have so many stories of my grandmother to tell, and I am looking forward to the day someone asks me about her. It won’t hurt, it’ll assure me that her story will live on.

      I actually had no idea the post would turn out that well. I had imagined it to be very confusing and inherent. Either way, if you found quality in it, then I must have grown a lot as a writer, and that makes me proud.
      It’s been a little more than a week now, and I find it a lot harder to process than it was a few days back. I really have no idea how to get on with my tasks, and just focusing on Zoe takes the most out of me. I barely have energy or motivation to study, even though I know I should. I really don’t want to fail this course I’m taking. The teachers really made an impact on me (they’re the Ig Nobel Prize winners of this year), and I feel like I’d disappoint them and myself if I fail.
      I think I’ve been laughing a lot more than crying, to be honest. It kind of makes me remember that there are still good things in life. Nothing wrong with crying, I’d just rather remember the feeling of laughter than that of crying.

      Did you use the analogy with the ocean just to make me smile? It feels like you did. I strongly believe that we exist to learn, which is why getting up on Mondays are easier for me, haha. Just a simple thing like your and R’s comments make my days. Most of the time, I blog because I know the two of you will read. And whenever you read, you always drop your wise words, even if my post was completely ridiculous. Your comments make my day, and I love every single one of them.

      I took your words to heart, and changed the name of the blog. Now that you mentioned it, it really fits more perfectly into its contents. For every post, you grow to be a bigger part of it. I hope you know how much our friendship means to me.

      Lots of love,

      • Dear Caely,

        You’ve got me typing through tears again. I didn’t use the analogy of the ocean to make you smile, but because I knew you would understand. (I’m glad that you did.) Changing the title of your blog to ‘Caely in the Making’ is pretty cool, and, I think, pretty perfect. I am honored to call you friend and so glad you found me out of all the zillions on the web. My life is entwined with yours now. We are braided streams, wending our way to the sea.

        You are on the right path. Never fear. Always love. Breathe deep. See.

        The Universe will open up and share all its treasures with you.



  2. Dear Caely,

    I write this through tears and am deeply touched by the child who loved her grandmother in a selfish time when the elderly have been tossed aside as irrelevant.

    This brings back memories of when my mother, after a year of chemo, passed away. I was in my twenties and, although I’d known people who’d passed away, it never occurred to me that it would happen to my parents. They were immortal. Invincible. The shock of it still lingers.

    I don’t tell you this to detract from your pain. Just to let you know that there’s a grief process. The first stage is shock, the last is acceptance. Nowhere is forgetting included. What your grandmother was and is will always be a part of you. I agree with Doug about writing. No one need see it unless you choose to share as you’ve so generously done here.

    The best advice I can give is to allow the feelings. Allow the tears. Allow the memories. Be gentle with yourself and, as Doug has so eloquently said, share your grandmother’s legacy with Zoe.

    I’m sending you my love and hugs.



    • Dearest R,

      We haven’t been friends for long, but you have grown on me. Much like D, your comments lift me up for every post I publish, even though I am rarely able to join the Fictioneer’s train.

      I strongly believe family is important above all, and the elderly are no exception. Just because they’re old, it doesn’t mean we, the younger generations, should discard them like a pair of worn-out jeans. On the contrary, I think we should treasure them. Their stories are their legacies, as much as their children and grandchildren are. They are what is left, when this earthly life ends. Like my cousin so beautifully put it: In the end, we’re all just stories.

      I read your story, and my heart skips a beat. I feel the pain, and I can never imagine anything greater than the loss of someone you once thought was invincible. My grandmother is my hero, and role model. She brought 12 kids here, safe and sound, away from war. For 60 years, she looked after my grandfather, making sure he wouldn’t do stupid things like drinking or smoking. I remember granddad told me once that grandma only allowed him to drink one drink and smoke a single cigar, once a year.

      I will try my best to allow the feelings. I used to suppress them, but those times are long gone. I’ll share more stories with you guys later on, when I feel ready or when grandpa feels like he has a funny story to share (which is all the time).

      I feel the warmth all the way across the pond. Thank you for being here, it’s much more appreciated than you could ever imagine.

      Lots of love,

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