It’s been about a year almost of radio silence from me… I apologize for such a long unexplained absence and neglectfulness. The last 10 or so months have been an absolute whirlwind, to say the least. I have so much to say, update you on, so much has happened that I would like to share; I think that might be too overwhelming all in one post, for myself included. So for now I will just pick up where I left off, so to speak, when dropped off the face of the anchor… haha… and then do multiple posts on what has happened over the last year.
I wasn’t sure where to start or what all to share/say, I had to sit down for a minute and sort some of my thoughts out… what should I include in this first post back from the dead, what do I save for later? While what I decided to talk about chronologically matches up with where I left off on my previous post, it also all kind of happened at once, which should be interesting to describe, so buckle in, this is a doozie.
To begin, I’d like to briefly refer to my last post where I was mentioning my quest for a full-time job. I was describing how it was super slim pickings, and no one was really hiring because of the plunge in the economy. Here in Alberta, Canada our economy depends pretty heavily on the oil and gas industry, and when oil dropped last year, half the province lost their jobs. As you can imagine, jobs with a live-able wage, benefits, and job security were scarce. I had, at that point, recently applied to a position with a commission under the Alberta government, to which I didn’t expect to hear anything. It was a position as an admin assistant, in a financial department of the commission, which is to say that it would be a little outside of my wheelhouse of Anthropology. I applied nonetheless, I didn’t have anything to lose at that point, and the more you reach out the greater chance you have of finding something. Well, imagine my surprise a month or so later when I was called in to do an interview; at this point I still hadn’t told Derek about it because I didn’t want him to get his hopes up only for it not to turn out. One day he was kind of stressing about the finances, and I was about to burst if I didn’t tell him, and I told him I had a job interview for a full-time permanent position. He FLIPPED, he was so excited and I had to tell him to but a lid on it just in case.
During all this I was still working as a receptionist of a car dealership, and the environment seemed to be getting worse every shift. The head receptionist was just an awful lady, everyone was grumpy because they weren’t making any money (commission based salaries of course), and it was just difficult. I was getting more and more desperate for that job to come through. Eventually I went to the interview, I practiced on excel sheets some basic things, did some other preparations for the interview the week leading up. They were all really nice people in the interview, and were excited to hear what I had to say about my thoughts and aspirations, knowing that it wasn’t really related to anything financial. It’s not often you can say that you enjoyed an job interview, but I certainly enjoyed this one.
During the week of my interview, my grandma had been taken to the hospital for pain in her belly and other gastro related issues. The day I had my interview I stopped by the hospital with my sister in tow to visit my grandpa in the emerge, and bring some supper to my mom and my Grandpa who were waiting with her. My grandparents are Portuguese, and there is a bit of a language barrier, that has only really worsened with age for them so my mom had to stay almost around the clock. We actually got really lucky when my grandma was admitted because there was a nurse that spoke fluent Portuguese, which significantly eased communication and care for my grandma. After a nice visit (and a sleeping grandma) I took my sister and my grandpa home for my mom.
About a day or two later, my mom had to bring my grandpa to the emerge as well, so we all came and took shifts between my grandma and my grandpa’s rooms. The Tuesday following that weekend, my sister and I were off school that day for exams so we went to go see my grandparents, we started with my grandma she was easiest to find. I will never ever in my life forget the look of pure joy on her face when we walked in the room. it was really difficult for her to hold a conversation, she was in a lot of pain and discomfort, and eventually she fell asleep. My sister and I decided that she would stay with grandma, and I would go with grandpa, as I am a bit more confident with my Portuguese abilities…
While I was sitting with my grandpa, as I was getting ready to head out to go to work, my phone rang. It was HR, and they offered me the job. Out of 50+ applicants, they offered ME the job. I couldn’t believe it, I was over the moon!. A huge weight just lifted off my shoulders. I ran to my grandma’s room to tell my sister and my grandma, they were so happy! I drove to the dealership feeling to most optimistic I’ve felt since working there. That night, at work, I typed up my letter of resignation, to start my new job in just under 2 weeks. Derek stopped by the dealership, and I was just beaming, and I told him, and he freaked out, he was completely elated! Things really started to look like they were taking form for us, for our life together, it was so wonderful.
Unfortunately, that’s about where the exciting optimism ended – at least temporarily. At 6:30 am, I got a phone call that broke my heart into a million pieces. It was my dad on the phone, with a shaky voice he told me that my grandma passed away. While the doctors were deliberating what way would be best to ease some of her pain, whether it would be surgery or a change in meds or other procedures, she died. My sweet, heart of gold, second mother. The woman who was my out of school care, lived with our family for most of my life – gone. Forever. I burst into tears, like inconsolable wailing. We left the house immediately, drove all the way to my parents (by the time I got there they were already at the hospital), I found my sister and we just, like magnets glued to each other sobbing. After we somewhat collected ourselves, we got in the car and Derek took us to the hospital as we braced ourselves for what would come.
When we got to the hospital, found my grandparents’ room, the first person we saw was our dad. His red, watery eyes, and quivering lip when he saw us in a similar state set us all off. We ran to him and burst into tears again. Next I saw my grandpa sitting next to my grandma, head down, essentially stunned into silence. That broke my heart even more, especially when he was saying how shocked he is, he just couldn’t believe it, he told me. I sat with my mom on my grandpa’s bed, holding on to each other. She was trying to contact family members, and I was watching my grandma laying there. My eyes kept anticipating her chest to move when she would breath, and every time it didn’t it was like a shock, it was like I was realizing all over again for the first time that she is gone, forever. I will never get her back. Realizing she won’t be there for so many things.
Her death was my first experience with death in my own family. Being a second mother to me, there will always be this void in my heart with her gone. Even 10 months later, sometimes I remember she is gone, and it is still so shocking. Sometimes I remember she is gone, or I get a wave of memories of her or missing her, at the most random times, and I just start tearing up, and I have to try and keep it together. While my heart is still in pieces with her loss, it is not lost on me how much better it is for her that she is gone now, at peace. She was suffering so much, from so many different things. She needed this peace, and I’m happy she has it. And it makes me thankful, that although she won’t be there for so many things I hoped she would, that she was there for my entire life, literally.
I won’t go into too much detail, if you have read this far you have been more than patient, but there are a few other moments that I’d like to mention about her death, and the days that followed I’d like to touch on. They were the hardest moments of that time, second only the day of her death, saying goodbye and kissing her head, and then seeing her rolled away in a bag on a gurney. One of those moments was carrying her casket. I had the up-most honour of being a pall-bearer at her funeral, and it was so hard to keep it together. I feel so luck to have been able to be a part of that moment though, as heart wrenching as it was, it was so special to me. The next moment was saying goodbye, the private moment we had with her before the ceremony started saying our final goodbyes. That was so so hard to see everyone go through. I regret that I didn’t take another minute alone with her, after it was all over, before they closed the casket. I wish I did, but at the time I hadn’t even thought about it. Even so, I hope she is watching me, and that she is proud, and happy. I miss her every single day, and I think about her in everything I do.
Before I go, I just need to give an honourable mention to Derek, the amazing human I share my life with. I truly don’t know how I would have gotten through all of that without him there to support and console me every step of the way.