Five Stages of Grief
Author's note: I have a had a fair share of grief in my life, as I'm sure all of us have. I was inspired to... Show full author's note »
Acceptance“Elizabeth, why are you reading that? It seems so morbid.”
Beatrice tries to grab the newspaper from my hands, but I snatch it back so that she can’t reach it. I know she won’t lean over me to get it, and so does she. I smile triumphantly and place the paper back in my lap as she sites back in her visitor’s chair.
“Why would it be morbid, Bea? Listen to this: ‘A new study shows that one-third of cancer patients survive currently, and the number is expected to increase dramatically in the next decade’. That’s wonderful, why wouldn’t you want me reading it?”
“Oh, don’t be cruel to me,” Beatrice chides, a mixture of confusion and melancholy on her face. I chuckle quietly and pat her hand with my wrinkled one.
“Don’t look so sad, sister, it never has flatter your face. Come one, tell me the gossip. I get so bored being holed up in here, with nothing but my magazines.”
Beatrice takes the hint gladly, and embarks on the long narrative that I need to distract myself.
“Well, Marilyn has settled in well. You know, I told her when she started the other job= the secretary one with that one company- I told her she wasn’t going to like it. She’s so independent you know, it’s no wonder she got bored too quickly. Anyways, she started with the teacher’s program and she doesn’t get paid so George is working more to help with money. I can tell she really loves it, Elizabeth. It seems like something she’ll be amazing with.”
“How are the kids?”
“Luke just finished his sophomore year last month. I’m worried about him, he’s a good boy, but he’s so reckless. I don’t want him to end up like Paul…”
Beatrice glances up at my quickly, trailing off when she sees my face. Paul, my youngest son, had died in a drunk-driving accident ten years ago.
“I’m sorry, Beth.”
“It’s all right.” My voice is scratchy, and I take a sip of water from the plastic cup on my bedside table. Beatrice still looks guilty, so I smile faintly and reach for her hand, caressing it comfortingly.
“How are the others? Did Justin finally get that one badge he’s been wanting?”
“Do you like it, Grama?”
“It’s beautiful daisy. You are quite the little artist, just like your mommy.”
Jennifer grins widely, and her red hair bounces on her shoulders as she reaches out to hug me. I wrap my frail arms around her small body, holding her softly but firmly.
I let her go and look back to my drawing from Jennifer. There are two people standing on a green hill (the larger one labeled GRAMA, and the smaller one labeled JENNY) under a purple sky.
“It’s night time, so the sky’s purple,” she explains. I tell her that was a very smart thing to do.
“So, Jenny, tell me something about your day.”
“Um, Evelyn came over to play Barbie’s with me. she didn’t like Barbie’s dress so she switched it was the green one.”
“Oh well, I’m sure you two had fun.”
Jennifer nods. All of a sudden her face brightens and she jumps out of her seat. “Grama, you’re coming to my recital, right?”
“Oh yes, your mom told me about your piano recital this weekend. I’m sorry darling, Grama can’t go this time, she has to stay here where the doctors are.”
Her smile disappears, and my heart sinks. She sits back slowly, a contemplating look on her little seven-year-old face.
‘Grama, when can you come home?”
We’d been over this before, but I took her hand and repeated myself again.
“Jenny, Grama can’t come home anymore. I need the doctors to take care of me.”
“Well mommy and daddy can take care of you, and I can help.”
“Yes they can, but I don’t want to make them sad all the time.”
“Why would they be sad? You’d be with us.”
I hesitated, and Maria saved me as she opened the room door, poking her head in.
“Come on Jenny, time to go home.”
Jennifer scampers over to her mother, pulling on her pant leg.
“Aren’t you going to talk to Grama, Mommy?”
“I already did this morning on the phone, love.”
Maria comes over to me and squeezes my hand. “How are you feeling mom?”
I smile at her, glancing quickly at Jennifer examining the children’s book piled up in the corner.
“I’m fine, dear. Just fine.”
At night I lie in my incredibly-uncomfortable hospital bed, thinking and meditating. I know I’m dying, and that there is nothing the doctors can do. Breast cancer is very serious business, and they just didn’t catch it in time.
I couldn’t stand the thought at first- not existing. Not being there for every moment of my family’s lives, not joining in the joy or the sadness. What would it be like, to die? That’s what I wonder about most I think.
But now I have reached a breakthrough in my pondering. That, even if I’m gone, I will still have left my family with memories and experiences of me. I would like to think I have made a difference in some lives, but I would never ask them directly lest they started thinking depressing thoughts.
I’m past the depression- I have realized that I have had a wonderful life. Even the small bumps in the road look like nothing now, and I’m proud of that.
It’ll always be sad, I can’t deny that. But I can keep from dwelling on “impending death”. I want to go home soon, to be with my daughter, so I can have those few last memories. That would be nice.
Anyways, Sean will be waiting for me when I go. He said he would wait forever, and I haven’t doubted him yet.