It seems so much more power to use it when you truly feel like its a day to take note of. To mark in the annuls of your mind and never forget. This is one of those days.
One of those days where you can't help but pause and reflect on life, what it has in store for you in the future. What it will be like to grow old. One of those days when you are forced to stare the eventual inevitability of death right in the eyes.
So yeah, today is one of those days. I can't really get this shit out of my head so here it is.
87 years ago my grandmother was born, and today we celebrated. My family gathered, we met up with my aunt and uncle, we ate, we enjoyed each others company.
She sat quietly through dinner, her hearing is not great, and over the din of a busy restaurant a hearing aid is useless for focusing on the voice of one person across a large table. She can't follow conversations very well so she remains silent and just enjoys being around family and giggles when we lean closer to her ear to joke and explain something she couldn't make out.
Shortly after my grandfather passed almost 6 years ago we saw her mind fading. I don't know if he was that she didn't have that driving focus in her life anymore, to care for someone, to make sure she had things in order, or if it was that we didn't see the signs earlier. After a few years she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and moved in with my Aunt, and then eventually with my family. She remains in the early stages and can recall most things that are old memories, but the new ones run off like a fish broken of the line before her mind can store them.
So as not to feel foolish she doesn't try to force herself into conversations she won't understand in 15 minutes time. She just enjoys having her daughters, son-in-laws, and grandchild with her. We all enjoy it.
To cap off her birthday the plan was to see her sister in the hospital, spend some time with her and enjoy a birthday cake with her even though she couldn't come to dinner with us. My great aunt has been living on her own a good 20 years now or so, nearly as long as I've been alive. She's been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count, and each time emerged more or less still as strong and stubborn in spirit than ever, and all things considered in good physical condition. Always vocal and never shying away from telling her doctor that he/she was full of it and she would be fine.
So when I was told we would visit her I didn't think much of it. Par for the course for a woman of her age, she's always been out on her feet soon enough, and none of my relatives seemed concerned. The second we walked into her room it was clear that this time wouldn't be so easy.
Pushing my grandma in her wheelchair into the room. Seeing her sister in such a state. No sooner had we removed the plastic from the top of the cake than she was asking for the pan and vomiting. She asks for the nurse and we leave the room as the orderlies help clean the vomit off of her and change her gown.
We pause in the hallway for a moment, not sure how to spend our time and thinking about my great aunt. My grandmother in the wheelchair directly in front of me biting her nails. I can't help but compare the din of the restaurant to the eerie silence we find ourselves engulfed in, only broken by the faint sound of Jeopardy playing on the television a few rooms down. And I can't help but wonder what it's like to be in my grandmothers shoes.
87 years old, celebrating your birthday and here she is visiting her only remaining sibling in the hospital, her health failing her at least for the moment. We roll up and down the hallway, looking at old photographs of the city. Pictures older than my grandmother and of things long since past. A world gone by.
We stay a bit longer, say goodbye, and return home. Silence. And all I can do is think. So many questions. What will my future be like? How many people will go before me? I know for a fact my grandmother will not remember this incident come morning. Is that a blessing or a curse? Such a bitter memory put on the end of what was previously such a sweet day. Words aren't sufficient and I don't know how we can adequately explain her sister's health without really upsetting her.
So many things I'm not sure of even now after writing.
One of those days.