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It takes and it takes and it takes

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I was sitting in bed watching TV when the phone rang. Baba never calls after nine; she’s usually asleep. So we answered it. She told me my grandfather (the donut stealer, if you follow me on Twitter) had fallen twice and the ambulance had arrived to take him in. She was going to drive to the hospital herself. I said no way.

When I arrived at the house, one firefighter had stayed behind with her until I arrived. “What were his vitals?” I asked, and he told me that he had been unresponsive when the ambulance had left. His heart rate had been 100 bpm, but his blood oxygen was 66.

If you’re unfamiliar with vital statistics, 66 is not good.

We drove to the hospital with a bag of his prescriptions and a bag of clothes. All the way there, Baba kept accusing him of not eating right, of having too much candy and crashing his blood sugar. I didn’t tell her what the fireman said. Partially because I didn’t want to upset her and partially because I truly believed that when we arrived he would already be in surgery, and the doctor could tell her.

At the emergency room, I went up to the nurse at the window and told her that my grandfather had been brought in by ambulance. I tried to hand her the bag of his prescriptions. She said, “We don’t need those right now.”

They had already taken Baba into a private waiting room. When I entered, the doctor was sitting down.

If you’re unfamiliar with doctors, sitting down is not good.

When Grandpa had arrived, he was already in cardiac arrest. They were working on him, doing chest compressions. Baba wanted to see him. We waited for a nurse to come, and she prepared Baba for what she would see. That he’d been intubated. That there would be wires on him. That they were still doing chest compressions but that he didn’t have a pulse. The doctor told me they’d been working on him for thirty minutes.

If you’re unfamiliar with hearts, thirty minutes without a pulse is not good. You’re probably familiar with hearts, though.

I called my uncle and told him, “Your dad isn’t going to make it.” He said, “What does that mean? How do you know?”

Because I know. I worked in the very hospital my grandfather was in right then. I was a CENA in a nursing home. I was raised by an RN, in a family of EMTs. And that’s why, when I walked into the room and saw the red-faced, sweating nurse pumping my grandfather’s chest, that it wouldn’t do any good.

I told the doctor that they should stop. There were already signs of biological death; his feet were pale, his eyes were open and flat. Baba said no, that I was wrong. “You’re wrong, you’re wrong!” I keep hearing that over and over. And I wished I was wrong. I wanted to knock the nurse out of the way and take over compressions, because surely I could make his heart beat if I wanted it enough.

I thought of that scene on Buffy, of all things, where she sees her mom lying on the floor, the paramedics working on her. Coming back to life, being rushed to the hospital.

If you’re unfamiliar with brains, they totally work like that.

My phone rang. My totally inappropriate Rick and Morty ringtone went off in the room as they noted the time of death. I went to the hallway to answer it. Instead, I threw my phone on the floor. I threw my purse on the floor, I threw everything as hard and violent as I could. There was a crash cart in the hall, a big, metal thing. I kicked it hard.

If you’re unfamiliar with feet, heads up. That’s how you break them.

A nurse came and put her arms around me. I apologized and asked where the bathroom was. I limped there, while she said I should really let them look at my foot, that I shouldn’t be walking on it. I told her I would be fine. I went into the bathroom and vomited while the nurse picked up all the stuff I’d thrown in my rage.

I asked the chaplain to contact an Orthodox priest. He didn’t know any. I didn’t know my grandfather’s priest. A half hour later, the chaplain informed us that he’d found a Greek Orthodox priest who was on his way. Russian, I kept insisting. Russian. It’s important. His father was a priest, it has to be a Russian Orthodox priest like his father. I ended up googling the name  of the priest at their church, and thankfully I found his home number. He and Matushka were in their car. “What does that mean, he’s died?” They were as shocked as we were. They arrived only shortly after the Greek priest.

If you’re unfamiliar with priests, they’re apparently like buses. What’s that saying about two of them showing up at once?

They both stayed to recite prayers to release my grandfather’s soul, and to comfort my grandmother. My biological dad arrived. I’d told him on the phone that he had to come, that I needed reinforcements. My uncle arrived. We didn’t know who we should call next. I was running a high fever from an ill-timed bought of pneumonia that set in during the week. My foot hurt and I couldn’t walk on it. I didn’t know what do or what the next steps were. I had no plan, and grandpa had no plan. Not even a plot to be buried in.

The last time my grandfather and I spoke, it was weeks ago. Weeks and weeks. We got into a huge fight about something serious. I screamed at him. I told him to get out of the house. The next time he came by, I wouldn’t talk to him.

I don’t regret our fight because it wasn’t something that could be dismissed. Family business, family secrets, things that had ruined my love for him forever. I don’t regret telling him, shouting at him what I felt. I do regret that the last thing I ever said to him was, “Get the fuck out of my house. I’m done with you.”

If you’re unfamiliar with grief, that’s not an ideal last memory to have.

I left Baba at the hospital with her sons and drove to the house. I cleaned up the bathroom where my grandfather had collapsed. He’d hit his head on the toilet. I wiped up his blood. I threw his underwear into the trash. I washed the rug.

I told his dog. His stupid, ugly little shih tzu with its homely underbite and weird, bulgy eyes, who can’t figure out why the invisible fence shocks him but keeps trying to run away, anyway. I said, “Steve isn’t coming back.” The dog curled up on the rug in front of the door. I think he understood. He doesn’t understand not to pee on the carpet, but he understands death, I guess.

It was two in the morning before I got home. It was three when I went to bed. I didn’t sleep until six, and woke up at ten. I wanted to get up earlier because my daughter had planned on seeing her baba and papa. She’d planned to call them as soon as she got up. Thankfully, she opted to watch Netflix instead. I sat between my kids on the couch and told them. My husband took them out to lunch and an arcade to distract them.

I don’t know what else to do for them. I don’t know what else to do for my family. I don’t understand why we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I don’t understand how he could go to bed at 9:30 and be dead at 10:30. I don’t understand how I could be so hateful as to never see my grandfather again after our fight. I don’t understand why I broke my foot, why I told them to stop working on him, why my father called me “kid” and gave me his phone number for the first time in my life. I don’t understand why I close my eyes and see my grandfather’s, bloodshot and dead. I just don’t understand.

Vichnaya Pamyat.

77 Comments

  1. Petra
    Petra

    There are very good reasons that, at times like these, we tend to fall into the standard cliches; because quite honestly, there are no words that can in any way adequately do justice to the pain and suffering of bereavement. In the coming days and weeks you will hear them all Jen I’ve no doubt. You’ll hear them until you’re sick of them so for right now I’m just going to say Fuck death that fucking fucker! I’ll also say this – Hun my heart goes out to you all. It goes without saying that I’m here if you ever want to talk, shout, cry, whatever. When I lost one of my best friends to suicide one of the nicest things someone ever did was let me shout and swear and say wildly inappropriate angry things and all they did was listen, not hold any of it against me and be a friend. You have all my details and I’m sure in a couple of days my kid will be in touch with his penpal. We all love you and we’re here for anything you need.

    October 22, 2016
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  2. Ange
    Ange

    Jenny, I am so sorry. My best wishes to you at this time.
    I do understand some of how you feel; I had a similar experience with my mother before she died. My own experience fwiw is that all you can do for your family is be there for them.

    October 22, 2016
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  3. mountain kimmie
    mountain kimmie

    Many of us are with you in spirit as you find the way thru this labyrinth. We are reminded of the moments and hours when we also had to walk it, the inconceivability of someone who has flown away when moments earlier they were right there with you, talking to you. Give yourself the love and compassion you would give your best friend. May you have peace.

    October 22, 2016
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  4. Micaela
    Micaela

    I’m so, so sorry. I have no better words or answesr to your questions but I am deeply sorry for your loss. <3

    October 22, 2016
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  5. Jo
    Jo

    <3<3<3

    October 22, 2016
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  6. Kokairu
    Kokairu

    I’m so sorry for your loss xx

    October 22, 2016
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  7. Jocelyn
    Jocelyn

    Dealing with death is such a complicated undertaking, especially when the relationship with the person who died was complicated too. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and sorry for what you lost when he left.

    October 22, 2016
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  8. Artemis
    Artemis

    I am so sorry. Family stuff can be so very difficult, and I’m so sorry for your loss and that all of this happened all at once.

    October 22, 2016
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  9. Claire B
    Claire B

    You were really courageous in a horrible stressful moment for your family. I’m sorry for your loss. Xxx

    October 22, 2016
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  10. Nadia Oliver
    Nadia Oliver

    Death is a cruel heartless fucker. I hate him. I’m here for whatever you need. I haven’t understood anything about the way people in my family have been stolen from me. But I’m here. For whatever. Anytime. For you.

    October 22, 2016
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  11. ella
    ella

    Sending good thoughts your way.

    October 22, 2016
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  12. Belle
    Belle

    Jen, please don’t worry, there are no rights or wrongs to this process. It complicated and horrible and different every single time for every single person.

    As others have said you’ll hear the cliches and standard platitudes and they won’t be helpful and you don’t have to accept them. Just know they come from a place of love.

    Think of you and all those who loved your grandfather x

    October 22, 2016
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  13. Aimee
    Aimee

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You did amazingly well in a terrible, terrible situation. I wish for you the time and space to heal.

    October 22, 2016
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  14. Donja Carroll
    Donja Carroll

    That is certainly not what I expected when I clicked to read this post. I am so, so sorry for your and your family’s loss. I wish you all the best and I hope your leg and the pneumonia get better soon. Y’all take care of yourselves as best you can. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

    October 22, 2016
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  15. Jen, I don’t know what to say, and words are so little comfort. Death is a bitch. Family complications are a bitch. I know your strength. You will get through this. Grief, however complicated, is a vampire and will swoop in and suck away your spirit and energy. Rely on your family, your friends, your fans. They are always there for you. As I am.
    Give a big hug to “Baba” from me. Love you.

    October 22, 2016
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  16. f
    f

    The last time I saw my husband the paramedics were attempting to resusitate. I remember screaming at him to open his eyes. I literally could not sleep as I was too scared (I was afraid of doing some massive self harm in my sleep) and I couldn’t deal with closing my eyes. The image of him sprawled out on the ground in a classic, yet ironic, “corpse pose” yoga position, his shirt cut open, and an oxygen mask still on his face was fucking horrible. It was terrible and it is absolutely terrible to go through. How could a healthy 40 year old man drop dead like that? I stopped asking that question though. I stopped asking “why?” Do not go down that rabbit hole. Grief is…….uh…it’s just awful. It’s every emotion wrapped up in yuck times a million. The best thing I did was to just roll with it. Just let your emotions flow. No matter how uncomfortable. Don’t stifle. Just remember that there is no wrong way to grieve. And of course, be kind to yourself. Love your family, love yourself.

    October 22, 2016
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  17. Emily
    Emily

    No words possible, just sympathy.

    October 22, 2016
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  18. Cat
    Cat

    I’m sorry you’re going through a difficult time and I’m sorry for your loss. As everyone else said, words aren’t enough to make things better. Hopefully, when your grief has eased you’ll be able to look back and realize how many people’s lives you have touched and that we care when you are hurting. Prayers for you and your family.

    October 22, 2016
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  19. drmaggiemoreau
    drmaggiemoreau

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say. Wishing you lots of hugs and good things.

    October 22, 2016
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  20. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    I’m so sorry, Jenny. 🙁

    October 22, 2016
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  21. Lyn Never
    Lyn Never

    I am so sorry, Jenny.

    October 22, 2016
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  22. *hugs* I am so sorry for your loss. Your Baba is so lucky that you were there for here, so you could handle the details while she struggled with grief, and everything you’re feeling is totally okay.

    I wasn’t able to go to my grandfather’s funeral for a variety of reasons, and I broke down at the funeral for a friend’s mother about four months later. All of the guilt and anger at myself for not being at Grandpa’s funeral crashed down, and my tears that day were as much for that as for my friend’s loss.

    October 22, 2016
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  23. Emma L
    Emma L

    I’m sorry for your loss. Take care.

    October 22, 2016
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  24. Zev
    Zev

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    October 22, 2016
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  25. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Can you get ahold of any of Helen Fitzgerald’s books on mourning? I happened to find her book on teenage mourning in a used bookstore a few years back, read it wishing I’d had it when I was a teen and one of my brother’s friends (and my first makeout partner) died in a car crash. It was all in there: the anger, the guilt over the anger because you’re supposed to be sad, right?–feeling suddenly fine and even ashamed you stopped mourning too soon, then suddenly crying like it just happened, pretending to do things with the person you lost, weird-ass dreams, etc. When my mom died not long after I read the book, I thanked God at least this time I knew how normal all that weirdness actually was.
    Broken foot: get a stool or chair on wheels so you can put your knee on it going from room to room if you’re carrying food etc. Get a backpack so you can put books etc. in it when you’re moving around. If they switch you to the boot and you don’t want to wear it to bed, wrap your foot in an ace bandage at night so you when you wake up, you’ll remember not to put weight on it.
    I was so busy brooding about how poorly grad school was going, I got a Jones fracture tripping on a curb, and this was particularly embarrassing given that I never broke it doing ice skating, ballet, skiing, horseback riding, gymnastics, or mosh pits. I got so frustrated while I was on crutches that I punched a wall, and had to get x-rayed for a bone chip. Take prenatal vitamins to strengthen hair and nails, since all that stuff is going to feed your foot (half my hair fell out, but it grew back–never as thick again, alas).
    Make sure you have people write stupid stuff on your cast. Harness the Weirdness! I I wish I were there to MST3K stupid things on TV with you.

    October 22, 2016
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  26. Kristen
    Kristen

    I’m so sorry. Much love to you and your family now.

    October 22, 2016
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  27. californianinkansas
    californianinkansas

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Please be gentle and forgiving towards yourself.

    October 22, 2016
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  28. Heather (@TorrinPaige)
    Heather (@TorrinPaige)

    My love to you. Everything will suck and you do what you need to do to get through it. Ask for help if you need it, have a hissy fit if you need it, sit in a corner and cry if you need it. There’s no “right” way to mourn and deal with the feelings you are currently feeling. My best advice is to feel them all and don’t judge yourself for anything just now. You will feel better eventually – and whenever that happens? Feel those feelings, too. I wish I could just give you a hug and silent support – so a virtual one will have to do.

    October 22, 2016
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  29. Bunny
    Bunny

    Sorry for your loss. Lots of hugs an good thoughts.

    October 23, 2016
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  30. I’m sorry. This sucks for you and your family. I know there is not anything that will lift the grief and pain, but know that there are many of us out here who will grieve with you and yours now.

    October 23, 2016
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  31. Becca
    Becca

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss. I wish I had something profound to say, to help reorder a very broken reality for you, but I don’t. Just know many of us are thinking of you and sending virtual hugs and casseroles.

    October 23, 2016
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  32. Sarah
    Sarah

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    October 23, 2016
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  33. I’m so so sorry for your loss. I also had a huge fight with my dad about a week before he died. I had never had a chance to talk it out with him. I wrote him a letter that I put in his casket with him. The night after I dreamed that he came back for a bit to take me and my sister for a walk in the woods. I asked him if I read my letter and he said he did and that he understood. I choose to believe that somehow he did know what I said in that letter. So that I could mourn my father without dragging the guilt of that fight with me forever.
    I hope you find a way to not feel guilty for fighting with your grandfather while mourning him.
    Big hugs to you and your family.

    October 23, 2016
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  34. I’m so sorry Jenny. This sort of stuff is so hard, and if you don’t know about the world it sucks sometimes and doesn’t even give us the whys, it just is.

    October 23, 2016
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  35. There is nothing else you can do – it is one of the immense horrors of grief – that there’s nothing you can do

    My deepest condolences and good thoughts for you and yours

    October 23, 2016
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  36. Ria
    Ria

    My deepest condolences to you and your family at this sad time. I wish you much strength and love in the coming weeks and months xxxx

    October 23, 2016
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  37. ElleGee
    ElleGee

    I am so sorry. This is a horrible part of life. I like the Jewish way of offering comfort to the bereaved: May his memory be a blessing.

    There are other memories. Blessed memories. Wishing you blessed memories.

    October 23, 2016
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  38. Amber Rose
    Amber Rose

    Death defies understanding, even though it’s the same refrain every time. “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong” Nobody believed me when my mom died. I must have heard I was wrong a thousand times.

    But you’re right. Whatever you need now is right, even if the world feels wrong. Do what you need to do, take what time you need to take. We are all sending you love and support. <3

    October 23, 2016
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  39. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jenny. I’m a mostly silent member of the Trout nation, but we lost my grandmother suddenly this March, and I know the suddenness makes lots of things harder. The road is hard, so don’t forget to give yourself time for self-care <3

    October 23, 2016
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  40. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    I’m so sorry for your loss. *internet hugs*

    October 23, 2016
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  41. Teresa
    Teresa

    So very sorry for your loss. Remember to be kind to yourself as you navigate the next days, weeks, months

    October 23, 2016
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  42. danielle
    danielle

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family at this sad time.

    October 23, 2016
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  43. Sheila the Wonderbink
    Sheila the Wonderbink

    Deepest condolences to you and your family. Peace be with you.

    October 23, 2016
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  44. Emerald
    Emerald

    I’m so sorry for your loss Jenny. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

    October 23, 2016
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  45. Pavlo
    Pavlo

    Vichnaya pamiat! Very sorry to hear about your loss.

    October 23, 2016
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  46. Jessieheels
    Jessieheels

    Jen, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time for you all. Sending infinite internet hugs,
    Jess XXXX

    October 23, 2016
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  47. I do not have wise or comforting words, so I’ll just send up warm thoughts your way.

    I am sorry for your loss.

    October 23, 2016
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  48. Hannah M.
    Hannah M.

    It’s gonna hurt like a sonofa batch for a real long time. It will be open and deep and aching. Let yourself shut down when you need to, force yourself to get up when you need to, scream and cry and sit silently and still in a room all alone when you need to.

    It sounds unhelpful now but sooner or later it won’t hurt as much. It will scab over and reopen and heal again. There will be days when you don’t think about it at all and days when you can’t think of anything else. Those days will get fewer and farther between I promise.

    And after some years you’ll reach a point where you can think about the whole mess with out breaking apart. And then someone will write about their loss so eloquently you run through half a box of tissues at 2 am. But it won’t be the same kind of pain. Less like you’re slowly being crushed, more like you’ve finally pulled out a large splinter you’ve been poking at for half an hour. Painful and kind of gross but with a bit of relief and a bit of accomplishment. And then you’ll take a deep breath or twelve and go to sleep because you’ve got shit to do in the morning.

    And it will be more or less okay-ish.

    October 24, 2016
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  49. So, so sorry. I have no wisdom. The deaths I’ve experienced have come gradually and have been foreknown. We are powerless in the face of death and can only survive by whatever means takes hold of us. If you have to scream and shout, scream and shout, and don’t hear anyone who tries to tell you what is or isn’t appropriate. You are in my thoughts.

    October 24, 2016
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  50. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    It hasn’t made much difference in my case whether it’s sudden or expected. When it’s expected, it’s like a watching a car crash in slow motion and being unable to stop it. And when it’s quick, it’s like: WTF? But so-and-so was getting BETTER. Or, what do you mean, a car crash just changed everything in a split second?
    What I don’t get about grief is how it hurts physically. I always feel it in and around my sternum.

    October 24, 2016
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  51. kristy
    kristy

    I’m sorry, Jenny.

    October 24, 2016
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  52. Lieke
    Lieke

    Aw, man, Jenny. This is beyond awful. I hope you and your family get through this okay.

    October 24, 2016
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  53. Jess
    Jess

    I couldn’t comment on this until now – I got a lot of bad memories from losing my father last year, and it was a bit unpleasant in my head.

    Grief is like a wound on your soul, but know that you are loved, that you’ve got an awesome family, and to be kind to yourself.

    October 24, 2016
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  54. Atrista
    Atrista

    Dear Jenny,
    I’m very sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be said to soothe you at this moment. Emotions are too raw, and they will be for a while. You were there for your Baba in one of the most difficult days of her life. Grief is painful, but it is also a pain that can be shared. Make sure to not isolate yourself in grief, be there for your family and let your loved ones be there for you as well.

    October 24, 2016
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  55. Shanti
    Shanti

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending Jedi hugs to you and your family.

    October 24, 2016
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    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      I don’t know if I want to use the term “I’m sorry for your loss” because it takes a LOT to ruin one’s love of a grandparent forever. Obviously we don’t know what it is, but it’s gotta be really to the right on the ‘serious’ scale, like almost molest the kids or the kids in the neighborhood kind of serious. (I’m not saying he did that, but it must have been really egregious or something at that level. Not even just voting for the person you don’t like in this election cycle would do that.) But it’s possible Jen is at a different place than just the loss of a loving grandparent. It’s a grandparent that did something really bad to her or the family.

      The trouble is, he died, and no amount of waving magic wands will bring him back. So all there is to do is deal with what is left over from his legacy. And that sounds like it will take a lot of time to work through it all. Months, if not years. But that would be the case if he were alive or not.

      But she has to heal from the pneumonia first, then the broken foot. If anyone is close to Jen, all I ask is if you can help, if possible. I wish I could. But Jen doesn’t know me and would probably not trust me. (And how could I blame her?)

      But we’re here for Jen if she needs it. And I suppose that’s all we can do until Jen is ready to work it out.

      All the best, kiddo.

      October 25, 2016
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        I appreciate everyone’s good thoughts and stuff, but I do want to step in and just respectfully ask that nobody speculate on the argument or the cause of it. Out of respect for my family, I won’t air their personal business, but I’ll go so far as to say that it has to do with my grandfather’s relationship with my biological father and how it may have affected my relationship with my bio father. But things are so hard for me right now that I can’t also heap on the emotional toll of having to explain family business so as to defend my grandfather from hypothetical scenarios that don’t apply. Especially conjecture about molestation (which was not what the argument was about); he was a bus driver and a scout master, and even a suggestion of something like that could make life a living hell for my family in our very small town.

        October 25, 2016
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        • mydogspa
          mydogspa

          Jenny,

          By all means, and I completely, deeply apologize that I even mentioned that as I was only trying to use an example of something that was bad and in no way wanted to imply that actually happened, so please delete my post above if you can. It was wrong of me to even suggest it. Please, if you can, accept my sincerest apologies.

          Please get better, physically first (foot and pneumonia) and then, when (and only when) you’re ready (if at all) share what happened with your bio Dad and grandfather. We don’t need to know.

          But we’re here for you if you ever want it.

          October 25, 2016
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  56. mydogspa
    mydogspa

    “The last time my grandfather and I spoke, it was weeks ago. Weeks and weeks. We got into a huge fight about something serious. I screamed at him. I told him to get out of the house. The next time he came by, I wouldn’t talk to him.

    “I don’t regret our fight because it wasn’t something that could be dismissed. Family business, family secrets, things that had ruined my love for him forever. I don’t regret telling him, shouting at him what I felt. I do regret that the last thing I ever said to him was, ‘Get the fuck out of my house. I’m done with you.'”

    Oh boy. For you to have said that to him a mere few weeks ago means it was very serious. At the time, you probably had the right to banish him from the house (My imagination is running wild as to what he could have done, so I’m thinking the worst, and that’s bad. You don’t have to tell us. But it sounds very bad. Hopefully it wasn’t just because he was Trump supporter or something.)

    I went through therapy almost 30 years ago now, and it was minor compared to this (just a divorce thing). I wish there was something I could say that would help. That could fix Jen. I like Jen. I want to see her healthy. And if what he did was that serious, it may have affected Jen’s mental as well as physical health.

    So first things first, heal that pneummonia. That can take you downhill almost as fast as the heart failure if it gets bad enough. Then let your foot heal.

    Only then can you address what he did to you and hopefully let that heal. But if it was egregious as it could be, that could take a lot of time. And may need more help than we can give you.

    But if there’s anything we can to to help you with that, please let us know. I’m not a professional therapist, I’m limited in what I can do. But if you think I or any of us can help, we’re here for you. We can listen. And give you possible bad advice (because of our lack of knowledge of what he did to you and how to deal with those types of things), so you may want a professional to help out if you can.

    But if you want to vent, let ‘er rip.

    Best of luck, kiddo. Everyone here loves you and wants the best for you.

    October 24, 2016
    |Reply
  57. Earthed Angel
    Earthed Angel

    You write evocatively Jenny, and I thank you for sharing something so messy and vulnerable and real. My heart goes out to you.

    October 24, 2016
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  58. Katy Newton
    Katy Newton

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Don’t worry about what was said last time you saw him. You know that you had good reason to feel and say what you did. But even if you didn’t, it’s still only one phase out of the totality of your lives together.

    My father died of a heart attack very suddenly when I was 22, at 4pm. I woke up that morning in a bad mood and was sulky and unfriendly all day. No reason. I just was. For a long time I hated that I wasted our last day together like that, but now, 18 years later, I understand that it really doesn’t matter that that day happened at the end, rather than somewhere in the 22 years before that. We have to live as if we’re alive and will continue to be alive, not as if we’re constantly expecting people to die.

    October 24, 2016
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  59. Casey
    Casey

    I don’t really have anything to say, but I wanted to add my voice to the outpouring of love in these comments. I know our little typed voices can’t do much, but you are so important, even to people who’ve never met you. I can’t give advice on grieving, because I don’t really do it (I’ll cry my eyes out over deleting homework, but my grandmother dying was “Oh. That’s a shame”). So while I wish I could provide some Deep Meaningful Words To Make It All Better, I don’t really have any. I CAN tell you how awesome you are, and it’ll get a little cheesy, so if you’re into that here you go:

    You’re an extremely gifted writer (even reading this I was struck by how literary it was), and from what I can tell from this blog an incredible person, and every time I read one of your posts it feels like privilege, that you choose to regularly share little pieces of your talent and your life with a largely faceless internet. As part of that largely faceless internet, I can’t express how your humor and your insights have helped me. So thank you, and I’m sorry for your loss.

    October 24, 2016
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  60. alicia
    alicia

    the last conversation i had with my grandmother was pretty similar. my mother had gone in for an emergency appendectomy and no one told me. i got this really bad feeling and started frantically calling everyone i was related to trying to find my mother. eventually i got ahold of my grandmother. she wouldn’t tell me anything, just that my mother couldn’t talk. apparently before my mother had gone into surgery she made everyone promise to not tell me that she was in the hospital. i eventually got this information out of my grandmother and ended the call with “if you EVER withold something like this from me ever again, i will DISOWN you. it’s fucked up that my mother could have died and i wouldn’t have even known there was something wrong.” that’s the last thing i ever said to her. about a month later she was admitted to the hospital, no one told me because she had emphysema and was in and out of the hospital all the time. she was in there over thanksgiving unconscious, that’s the last time i saw her. she died days later.

    it’s rough, regretting what was said, what you didn’t get to say. you’re not alone, though. <3

    October 24, 2016
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  61. Noisyninja
    Noisyninja

    I’m sorry for your loss. When death is unexpected, it’s so heart-rending, even for an older person if they aren’t dealing with an imminent threat. It’s caught me by surprise more than a few times.

    When I was very young, my cousin who was only a few years older and had sever mental and physical disabilities died very suddenly. At the time, it was impossible to face the funeral, so I stayed home. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to say goodbye properly, since even though she had the mind of an infant, I felt very close to her.
    My dad’s father died when I was just a baby, and I think one of my earliest memories is of his funeral. For years his absence was just a fact, nothing more, until I was in high school and I found out that no, he hadn’t died of an illness, he had killed himself. It made his death fresh and frightening in a way I couldn’t have imagined, especially since when I was little I would talk to him, like he was an imaginary friend. I had also had suicidal thoughts myself from time to time for many years.
    After my mother’s dad died after many compounding illnesses stemming from a bout with shingles, my grandmother moved into an assisted living place, and was doing fairly well, all things considered. She had a few issues here and there, being in her nineties, and an embellism that couldn’t be operated on due to her age and general frailty, but she was doing physical therapy and was even able to demonstrate some Hawaiian dance when I last visited. She died very suddenly from something completely unrelated to her known health issues. We were really close, so it was super hard to get through. And I was asked to do the eulogy. I barely held it together.
    About a year ago, a woman I worked with, who was maybe 50, died suddenly of complications related to sickle cell anemia. No one at the office even knew she was sick. We went to the memorial at her church, and I was blown away by how many people came to mourn, and to testify about how she had changed their lives. I had no idea about this side of her life, and I felt angry at myself that I hadn’t taken the time to know her better.
    All this is to say that you are not alone. Your pain is unique to you, but death is not always just or something we can understand. It doesn’t wait for everyone to get to the bedside. It doesn’t only relieve the pain of the very sick. It will stand behind your shoulder, just out of view, or smack you in the face with its terrible reality. You get to feel however it is you feel. Eventually, those feelings sort themselves out and become part of your new normal. Be angry. Be sick. Be sad. Cry. Laugh. Distract yourself and try to forget. Look at old photos and remember how things used to be. Your grief process is valid and absolutely what you need to be doing. But please know that you are not the only one grieving his loss, and I have always found strengthin sharing the burden of my grief with the people who love me. If you are grieving more for the relationship, you may not be the only one doing that either.
    Best wishes to you and your family, and I hope you find a way to the other side of this.
    <3

    October 24, 2016
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  62. It’s okay that you don’t understand how all of this crumbled in this specific way, because there is no explanation for it. I know that you are doing what you can for yourself and your family. My condolences for your loss.

    October 24, 2016
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  63. starlightarcher
    starlightarcher

    First of all, I want to send you all the Internet hugs for you & your foot. Second, I want to tell you my own grandfather died in a rehab hospital, during the 15 minutes between check-ins. He died of a heart attack, but he was at the hospital recovering from prostate cancer surgery and renal failure. The last time I saw him, he was strapped to his bed with soft restraints. My mother warned me he might not be right in the head. Which seemed like an aberration. He was a PhD and a tenured professor of Chemistry. His mind was one of the greatest I ever knew. But she was correct, he was still there, but drifting away from us all very quickly.

    I want to tell you that almost no one ever has a plan or knows what to do in the moments, days, weeks, years following. That my own family full to capacity of PhD’s hadn’t the foggiest notion of how to proceed. As we all huddled up in my grandmother’s house, the thing we learned was to focus on breathing. Some of us had to take walks to keep collected, some had to do things like cook or laundry, and the rest of us had to breathe slowly and carefully to keep from fracturing. Most times we traded between the lot. So just breathe for a few moments, maybe make some toast (even if you don’t eat it). You seem like a wise lady, and I bet you already know all this stuff (so did I when it happened to me), but I also needed the reminder.

    My heart hurts for you that things weren’t settled between you when he went. Hopefully in the coming days you can find moments to process, and also moments to put it aside for later. You and yours are in our thoughts and hearts.

    October 24, 2016
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  64. H
    H

    I have nothing but hugs and another affirmation that you are not alone. I hope it somehow helps to add to the volume or something. Please attempt to be nicer to yourself than you want to be right now. I am so, so sorry.

    October 25, 2016
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  65. Sherry
    Sherry

    Jenny – My heart goes out to you, Baba, and her sons and other family affected by your loss. Death will ever be a part of life that the living must cope with, but that makes it no easier. I hope you are able to find peace in your heart, regardless of the harsh words that were spoken. Thank you for sharing your pain with us – sharing it will hopefully lessen it for you. Blessed be, Jenny!

    October 25, 2016
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  66. IfYouEverCome Back
    IfYouEverCome Back

    Aww, honey, I’m so sorry that sucks so much. The guilt of not saying goodbye properly will eat you up. I hope you find peace. MY love etc… goes out to you and yours.

    October 25, 2016
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  67. Angel Yount
    Angel Yount

    I’m sorry, Jen. I know we’re all just a bunch of internet strangers who occasionally comment, but I wanted to add my hugs and remind you to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

    October 25, 2016
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  68. Tabi
    Tabi

    I’m absolutely heartbroken for you. I’m so sorry, Jenny. I wish there were better words. Take care of yourself.

    October 27, 2016
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  69. Megan Jones
    Megan Jones

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    October 28, 2016
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  70. Uliana
    Uliana

    Well, I went here to read some updates on Cherward and Anabella’s story from Chedward’s POW. “I’m in a lousy mood”, – I thought to myself, – “So let’s see what Jen has to share with us, this will cheer me up”. And then I read this. Death, relatives, shock and grief.

    Dear Jen, I do not always share your point of view re: LGBT issues and some others, bit it does not matter at all here. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    The bestest regards from Russia.

    October 29, 2016
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  71. Jess
    Jess

    Awh, Jen. I am so sorry for your loss. Xxx

    November 8, 2016
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  72. Crystal King
    Crystal King

    My Nana passed away on the 28th. I spent 20 minutes checking for a pulse. I even used my stethoscope. I thought about that scene from Buffy and wondered if chest compressions would have helped. I haven’t gone back to work. I’m taking care of my mom. I’m sitting alone in my house, smelling her clothes and crying. I think about the last thing she said to me a few days before. “Come see me. I love you.” It’s horrible what’s left behind when a loved one does.

    November 8, 2016
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  73. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    The “smelling the clothes” thing must be a pretty common ritual. Wish I’d known that when my mom died. I brought back a bunch of my mom’s clothes, and I was going to launder them before using them, because I am allergic to most scented detergents, but I found myself sitting on the closet floor, taking them out the bag and smelling them, taking them out the bag and smelling them, over and over, before I could bring myself to put them in the wash. And I cried all through it.

    November 8, 2016
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  74. Jane
    Jane

    I don’t read your site regularly. Most of the time I remember to check it every few months and hover around without posting anything, but I wanted to write something even though this isn’t current.

    I’m so sorry. Loss sucks, and there’s nothing that will make it suck less. I hope that you’re feeling less raw, but that can take a while. It doesn’t ever entirely go away, it just feels less like your emotions are being scraped all the time.

    January 3, 2017
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