July 30, 2008
By Megan Giles, Farmingville, NY

Cancer is a horrible thing. Grandpa was already dead because of it and Grandma was in the hospital. Mommy said that she was on her “death bed,” whatever that is. But I thought that it meant that she was going to die just like Grandpa because it had the word death in it.
Mommy said that I shouldn’t be sad for Grandpa because he died because he would have wanted us to be happy after he was gone. But Mommy cried a lot when they buried him in the ground. She told me it was because Grandpa was really close to her. That also happened pretty soon after we left Daddy, so she was still crying at night from that.
Grandma held my hand surprisingly tight for someone who was about to die. It kind of hurt a little because the casts I had on my arms from the accident that Daddy got us in went around my hands, too. I was crying really hard because I didn’t want her to go because then Mommy would be the only person I had left.
Mommy was crying even harder than me, which I didn’t think was possible. She was even crying harder than I cried after I broke both of my arms.
“Don’t cry, Morgan,” Grandma whispered to me. “It’s my time to go. I’m going to find Grandpa in Heaven.”
I sobbed. She was so not upset about dying. But at least she was awake. Grandpa was asleep when he died. One of the machines randomly started beeping and then a nurse told Mommy and to leave the room, but Grandma got to stay ‘cause she was his husband.
Grandma already told her doctor who came in a while ago to put something called a “DNR” on her chart, but I didn’t know what that meant. Mommy cried even more then, so I guessed that it was a bad thing.
Grandma was also bald from before they stopped trying to treat her cancer, so I could see how sweaty her head was.
“Are you in pain, Grandma?” I asked quietly, watching a drop of sweat drip down behind her ear. She only got sweaty when something was hurting her.
“My bones are just a bit achy,” she murmured closing her eyes. “It’ll all go away soon.”
She sighed almost peacefully and Mommy put a hand over her mouth because she was trying not to let Grandma hear her cry. Mommy’s body was shaking and she had her other hand around her chest.
I was starting to get scared because I never saw Mommy cry this hard. She always tried to be strong for me. But now she looked so sad. I hugged Grandma really tight and tried not to hurt her with my casts at the same time. It was really hard.
Then I got off my chair and gave Mommy a really big hug. She hugged me back with the hand that was over her mouth and I felt her tears dripping onto the top of my head. She buried her face in my hair.
“Nicole,” I heard Grandma whisper. Mommy walked over and grabbed Grandma’s hand with me still hugging her.
“Please know that I love you,” Grandma almost gasped.
Mommy let go of me so she could hold Grandma’s hand with both of hers. I could see a tear falling down the side of Grandma’s face. Mommy bowed her head over Grandma’s hand and started shaking more.
I knew that it was almost time for Grandma to leave us. She wasn’t breathing a lot. She used to like running a lot, before she found out that she had cancer. I remember setting my alarm so that I would wake up really early when I was sleeping over at her house, usually when Mommy and Daddy started yelling at each other. I always tried to run with Grandma, but I could never keep up with her, so I walked behind with Grandpa, holding his hand. Then when Grandma was done running, she would take me out to get ice cream. Sometimes she would even let me get a banana split sundae.
I couldn’t remember things I used to do with Grandma anymore because one of the machines started beeping, just like when Grandpa was in the hospital. I could feel my heart beating even faster and I hugged Mommy tighter because I wanted to be with Grandma but I thought a nurse was going to make us leave like one did when Grandpa died.
But no nurses or doctors came to Grandma’s room when the machine started beeping. I could see Grandma’s hand falling from Mommy’s and she let it fall onto the bed.
“Mommy, why aren’t the doctors coming?” I asked, crying more when the machine that was beeping stopped beeping and let out a high-pitched really long beep.
Mommy couldn’t answer me because she was crying so hard that I thought she was going to be sick. She grabbed me really quickly and pushed me out the door to Grandma’s room. A nice man handed Mommy and me a handful of tissues.
“Thank you, Doctor West, for everything,” Mommy sputtered to him.
He nodded and said he was very sorry. Then Mommy said that she was going to go into the bathroom for a minute and told me to sit in the chair right in front of the door. As soon as she was gone, I had a question to ask the doctor.
“Excuse me, Doctor West?” He looked at me with his eyebrows raised. “What does ‘DNR’ mean?”
He looked at me closely for a minute before he told me, “It means do not resuscitate. Your grandma didn’t want anyone to try to bring her back to life when that monitor started beeping. She wanted to die in peace.”
I nodded to show him that I got it and he went into Grandma’s room with two nurses. Mommy came out of the bathroom just as the door to Grandma’s room opened again. She kneeled down in front of me and hugged me so tight that she was cutting off my air and I hugged her back, trying again not to hurt her with my casts. Then a bed was wheeled out of Grandma’s room and I knew that she was on that bed from the shape under the white sheet that was covering her body.
And as she was wheeled past Mommy and me, even though I knew that it would probably be the last time I saw her, I knew that she had died in peace just like she asked and that she also wouldn’t want us to be sad. So I wasn’t sad anymore, because I knew that she had found Grandpa and was watching over us.

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