Thursday, May 11, 2017

Where Prayer and Conjuring Meet

For those who may be new here, my grandmother passed away in February. 
My grief comes and goes, hitting in those proverbial waves.
Sometimes I talk to Jesus and the Father about it. 
Other times I talk with Grandma.

Hey Grandma,

Mother Nature almost missed the memo - not granting her usual showers in Colorado until late in the month of April, so May is catching up for us.

We've had a lot of gray days, but I'm not complaining. We had a dry winter and desperately need the moisture, lest we have another summer filled with wildfires.

Credit: CNN
Rain in sunny Colorado yields a lot of rainbows, and lately, they've been different. Like they're only for me to see and playing peek-a-boo with the rest of the people. Like they're from you.

A couple weeks ago, as I was taking Colton home from practice, I drove around Donath Lake and there it was. The sun was peeking out of the clouds for the first time all day, just before it began its western descent, edging the spent thunderheads all silvercast, stretching her beams wide to dance on the water's surface.

One cumulus puff caught my eye with its radiance. Edging the corner nearest the sun along with the virga streaming down from the main cloud body, was a waterfall of prismacolor.

I wanted to stop and snap a picture because I'd never seen anything quite like it.

It was kind of like this, but still different:


It was so beautiful.

Also fleeting.

The angle of the sun changed so much that by the time I turned the corner and could pull over, you were gone.

Yesterday, the skies were almost black, but as we turned east to our park destination, a broad diagonal swath of cloud was streaked with rainbow, ever so faintly.

It took me back.

February 16, 2017 

My cousin Hope and I are driving in her van, tears still fresh in our eyes, along US-395 as we follow the ambulance transporting you from the hospital to the nursing facility.

It has been a long day.

I got to the hospital just before 8 am, after getting Hope's boys ready and off to school and driving her to work.

You only knew me for sporadic periods that day. 

I watched you try to reconcile your past with the ghosts in the room all day long.

At one point, you'd sat up abruptly out of a peaceful state, pointed your finger at whomever you saw, glaring intensely at them and growled menacingly in your tobacco-deepened baritone voice, "You get your hands off of her!"

You shook your finger for emphasis and roared, "D'YA HEAR ME?!? You get your hands OFF of her, I said!"

My eyes brimmed, hot and salty tears threatening to burst the dam of calm resolve. I knew not one, but several different unspeakable incidents from your past to which you could be speaking, and that there could be countless others I didn't know about.

I rolled my eyes heavenward, the Spirit in me groaning out to God, "Why? Why was her life so damn hard? And you can't even give her a merciful death? Why?" and then I blasphemed against the Lord, "What the f*ck is wrong with You? You allowed some sick sh*t to happen in her lifetime - why????"

You collapsed, exhausted by the outburst and then told me you needed a cigarette something fierce.

"Grandma, you can't have one here." 

"Why in the hell not?"

"Because Grandma, remember you are in the hospital? You fell and broke your hip and had to have surgery, so you've been here in the hospital for the last several days."

You huffed, rolled your eyes at me and grumbled in disgust, "You're so full of sh*t!"

I chuckled, that was you, all right.

You had a brief period of startling lucidity when you talked to Mom on the phone a bit. 

You told her, "Tara, I'm just so tired. Imma fixin' to go upstairs to that big house with all the purty lights. You should see them, it's so purty."

Mom was still on the phone, via speaker when the Adult Protection Worker came in to ask you about your fall. The frustration and relief in your eyes when she validated your feelings of not being treated like an adult, all the doctors talking to us instead of to you, ignoring your attempts to clarify, brought the threat of tears again.

Again with the silent groaning, "She was always so strong, so feisty and intelligent, so independent. This helpless, snowy-haired, frail and infant-like being is not her. Please, Lord, be merciful and take her soon." 

But then, guilt at that last bit. Because, what would happen?

You refused to eat, and it was all I could do to get water into you, holding the straw to your cup and guiding it to your cracked mouth, dry from your mouth breathing.

You rested, fitfully. The death rattle grew louder as the day wore on and the letters D, N, R taunted me in my head. I sang hymns to you in hopes of calming you down. It worked for awhile, putting a toothless smile on your face as you rested.

You were supposed to be transported early afternoon, but so many things went wrong with the orders that we (Hope left work early and joined me at the hospital around lunchtime) watched the clock drag on.

I kept calling and texting Tina (Hope's mother, my aunt), telling her your time was short, but per usual her sense of time didn't correlate to the world's in any kind of reasonable ratio. Excuses abounded.

The doctors wouldn't just come out and say what my gut knew. Your time was near, but they kept insisting that you would recover outside of a hospital environment. As a result, I had to tell Mom and Uncle Darrel and Hope, "She's not going to get better, and it's going fast."

I hated being the one to point out the reality that the doctors wouldn't.

You got more and more agitated, struggling to breathe with each coming breath, talking about having to make living arrangements for Tina and David. Hope and I assured you that you didn't need to worry about any of that, you just needed to "get better."

You called out in a sob, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Hope looked at me with tears, and we broke. 

"Grandma, what are you sorry for, sweets?" I asked.

You weren't able to specify, but you said, "Nobody should have to go through this," and went on to babble about splitting things three ways and being fair to the kids.

"Grandma, you're a good mom and grandma and you are loved! You don't need to worry about all that. We love you know you love us and you just need to rest and relax," Hope told her, firmly and yet her tone begging her to find some peace of mind because this was killing us.

There was no more discussion, because you fell into a silent trance; the only sound coming from you was that horrible rattling that only grew louder with time. 

Hope and I held hands across your bed, tears streaming together. I honestly thought this was it for you.

Then finally, around 5 pm the medics who would transport you arrived, this time with a gurney. (They'd come before with a wheelchair and both the doctor and I roared about the incompetence of doing so) 

You perked up, snapping out of your trance - which meant that it hurt to get you in there and that was not pleasant.

We go to follow, and find Tina in the parking lot. Finally.

Oh, there is anger, but it will have to wait.

We start to follow the ambulance, and right as we get to the bridge, Hope says, "Heather, look!"

The sun has emerged from the clouds and the most vibrant rainbow is before us.

We both took it as a sign that this storm of life was about to end.

Some 8 hours later, you passed.

And the sun came out bright and clear that Friday in a day-long defiance of the forecast.

We knew it was for you.


Since her passing, there has been a lot of angst in the family, which is not what she wanted.

But it seems to lift more every day.

I miss you, Grandma.

Keep sending those special rainbows.

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