Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Heart of Life

 "The Heart Of Life" - John Mayer

It's been a week since I last sat down and got comfortable on my favorite spot on the couch. 
A week since I last wrote.  And a week since we said goodbye to 2011.

In a word, 2012 has been...

My nani passed away on January 2nd.

It hasn't been until this morning, that I've had time to transform some of these emotions into words.
I woke up extra early to give myself that time.
More importantly, to give thanks and remember my grandmother.
Her services are today.

My nani was 86.  She was bed ridden for 2 years.  But her mind...
Her mind was sharp. She remembered everything
And I admire that.
I remember a day this past summer.  My mom and I were going through the hutch in my nani's living room.  I kept finding old photographs.  Many of nani when she was younger.  With her pop - pop...their friends.
I took a handful of them to her.  And told her I'd be back with more.  At least ten minutes passed before I went back to her room.  And when I returned, she was still holding onto the same photo.  She hadn't put it down.  It was a photo of her, my grandfather, and their friends. 
I watched as she examined it and held it tightly. 
Usually, she'd have stories to go along with each picture.  But this time, she was quiet.
And I got it.  She was deep in that memory.

"You know it's nothing new
Bad news never had good timing"

When my mom and I spent last Friday in the hospital - deep down, I had a feeling. 
But at the same time, I saw her coming home.  I never imagined spending New Year's day and night in the ICU.  Seeing my nani hooked up to all those machines.  Depending on oxygen. Barely moving....
It broke my heart.  When Steve and I walked in, and I saw my mom sitting beside the bed, holding her mother's hand, crying heavy tears...
It broke my heart more.

Monday, we sat in room #371 with the lights off and only the sound of the monitors. We were all tired.
And though I tried to hide it,
I was scared.
I was scared because I had never been in the presence of someone dying.
I was scared because it was my nani, who was dying.  And the nurses told us she didn't have much time.
I was scared because the machines kept flashing red.  On and off for hours.  Making us aware her blood pressure was lowering.
I was scared she'd be in pain when the time came.
I was scared for my mom.

At a little past 8:40 pm, on Monday night, my nani took her last breath.
And as much as I think about that very moment,
it was the one following, that will remain in my mind heart always.
Minutes before nani passed, I stood close to my arm around heart beating fast.
She was hurting so badly.
The monitor went to zero.  Nani was still.  Nani was in peace.
 And us - we were feeling every bit of it.
My mom and I looked at one another.  I whispered, "she's passed."
And within seconds, I was sandwiched tightly between my mom and brother, Nicholas.
I can remember the sound of our loud cries and the way the tears fell.  The way my mom's hair felt as I ran my fingers through it to comfort her. I can remember the way my nani's hand felt in mine.  The way my brother squeezed me closer as my mom's tears got heavier.  And Steve wrapping his arms around all of us.
It stayed that way for a good thirty minutes.
It was hard.  It was sad. 
It was beautiful.
And I wasn't scared anymore.

"Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around"

The week before Christmas, I spent an afternoon with nani. I sat with my phone open to the gallery of hundreds and hundreds of photos of the kitties.  (If possible, she loved cats more than I do.)  I went on and on about each photo.  She'd laugh.  Call them little buggers.  Smile and pull the phone closer to her to get a better look.  She paused after the 300th photo and said, "You're going to make a good mommy one day." 
I choked back tears.  Thanked her.  And I told her...
that in the coming months Steve and I would be using a sperm donor to become parents.
She, knowing a decent amount of the first year of our journey, looked at me and said, "Oh, Maria, it's been a long time since you talked about it.  I always wondered, but didn't want to upset you."

And I'm crying.  Because when I think about my grandmother - now and years ago - I always respected who she was.  She was humble.  Never prideful. She never claimed to have any answers.  She didn't gossip or brag. 
She'd tell you stories and you'd listen.  You'd tell her stories and she'd listen.
She used words like, "blouse" and "rouge" and "naturally."
When she was mad, she'd curse in Hungarian.  (And sometimes, tell my Mom she was going to bite her nose off.)
She'd tell me, "It's okay, I think I made poops in my diaper!," when I proudly farted in front of her.
That was nani.
She had no shame.
She was honest.

The last words nani said to my mom were...
"Happy New Year"

And you know what,
It is.  And it will be.

"Life goes by in mid - July
Just like it does on New Year's Day
There's a comfort in the good old times
You don't feel so far away"  
(Alison Krauss - Frozen Fields)


Instead of focusing on 365 days at a time, I want to work on focusing on each day at a time.

The first days of 2012 have taught and proved to me - so much in such a short amount of time.

Days can be long.  Sleep doesn't always come easy.
People can either help one another or hurt one another.
They can act heartless or heal your heart.
Loss should be grieved.  Life should be celebrated.

Love does conquer all.

And the heart of life...

"The heart of life is good."

happy new year day.

With all my  Love,


lovejoy_31 said...

OK Maria!!! Sobbing uncontrollably early Saturday morning is not how I pictured the weekend. I am so very sorry for the loss. Trust me I know how hard it is, even if you were expecting it. That doesn't take the hurt away. I promise you that the hurt will dull. It comes in waves. Just go with it because it isn't something that you can control. I am so very glad that you had that conversation with your grandmother about having babies. I know it meant a lot for her. Know that I will be praying for you, Love!!!!

Kelly @ Stay at Home Trader said...

Oh Maria. This is sooo beautifully written. I have giant tears rolling down my face. I can't help but think of my grandmother, and miss her so much. You were able to be with your nani right to the very end, and that is such a beautiful thing. I wish I had been there to send my Grandmom "home". I miss her so much, and saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. You are much can happen in such a short amount of time. You know our grandmother's are up there with their "cards and manhattans" and are watching over us, and probably so happy to no longer be in pain. This is so absolutely beautiful, and I feel honored that you shared it with all of us. Love you to pieces, and I hope that I can live to be half of the woman my grandmother was someday.



Kathy said...

Oh Sweetie!! I'm so sorry for your loss but so glad you had such a wonderful Grandmother. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this hard time.

I lost my grandmother when I was few weeks pregnant with Tom. Unlike your sweet grandma my grandmother's mind had gone. I felt like maybe she knew I needed one more angel to look over me and my yet to be born baby. It gave me some much needed comfort when I would get so nervous that my dreams of motherhood would never happen.

I love you! Please know my thoughts are with you.

Thrifty Crafty Girl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss!

Maria said...

Happy New Day to you too. I am so very sorry for your loss and this post is a truly beautiful tribute to a lovely lady. I was moved to tears and thank you for sharing your Nani with us. (((hugs)))

MrsV said...

Maria! :'(
I am so sorry for your loss! oxoxo You can tell by the way you've always wrote about her that your nani and you were close. She has always sounded like an amazing woman. I am sure it meant the world to her to hear you speak about your plans on becoming a mommy <3
This post is so beautifully written, I hope this year is filled with many great things for you and your family, and with such a wonderful woman like your nani looking out for you I don't doubt this will be one of your best years yet.
oxoxox <3 V

Diana said...

My sweet Maria. I am choked up w tears as i read this and look at those beautiful pictures. I am deeply sorry for ur great loss. She looked like an extraordinary woman. I wish I could mail out a big hug to you because I would !! I know this wasn't THE happiest way to spen new years or even begin the new year but what she told u about being a great mom one day.... That gave me chills. It's true. She's right and u WILL.
I love u sister bear and I'll be thinking of u as always. I'm so sorry. Give ur mom an extra hug on my behalf. She doesn't know me but I know her thru ur pics and she had a daughter who I truly admire w all my heart. Xoxo Maria.

My Life as a Minister's Wife said...

Oh, sweet sister, I am so sorry. Praise God that death is not and end, but another beginning. Praying for your peace and comfort as you mourn.

Melissa said...

Maria, I am so sorry for your loss and for the loss to the rest of your family. It's been very clear from your previous posts how much she meant to you. I know how difficult it was for me when my grandpa passed in May. I'm praying for peace for you and your family.

Judy Haughton-James said...

Wow! What an awesome post Maria. As you know I have recently lost my brother only 3 years after the death of my identical twin sister so it is a very difficult time for me. You are such a wonderful person and I would like to again express my sincere condolences to you and your family. I pray that you will all find strength at the Thanksgiving service today and I know all the wonderful memories will live on. I close with these words that I really love:
"Those we love don't go away,
They walk beside us every day,
Unseen, unheard but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear."
Take care and Lots of Love, Friendship, Thoughts and Prayers for you all.

Anonymous said...

Aww, so sorry for you loss first thing this year. How lucky that you were all there with her for her last breath. I will be thinking of you and your family today.

Aleisha McD said...

Stunning post, my beautiful friend. Truly, it was breathtaking and poetic and emotional. I really loved reading about your experience with your Nani's passing. I'm sure there were angels in the room with all of you. I've been thinking about you so much this week. I sincerely hope you (and your mom) are doing okay. Death is hard, and unfortunately, inevitable. Celebrate the dear one you lost, and cling to those still here. I love you.

Moosey Mommy said...

I am so sorry for your loss. :( It's never long enough with those we love. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sitting here with big tears running down my face, sobbing quietly. I can feel through your post how much you and your Nani loved each other, and am glad for that. But so sad for your loss.

Ashley said...

Maria, I am so extremely sorry for your loss, my friend. It is never an easy thing to let a loved one go and grief can be a journey but please know that I am here for you if you ever need it. I will hold you and your family in my prayers.

Bernadette & Duane said...

Sending you many healing thoughts. What lovely memories you have made with your Nani. May you cherish them forever and find peace as you recall them. xo B

Kari said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Nani sounds like she was an amazing woman. Lots of thoughts & prayers to you and your family.

Jordan Marie @ said...

love you. you're amazing. stay strong. xoxo<3xojo

Krafty Max Originals said...

Thank you. This was a wonderful post. I lost my grandmother exactly one week before Christmas. Although I couldn't be there in person (we are over 3,000 miles apart) my mother and family was with her. She was living relatively on her own until about 4 days before and was able to make it back from the hospital to her home before the end. Being an only child of the only girl of my Grandmother we had a special bond. My mine and spirit was there - I knew before they called the exact moment when she passed. Her husband (my grandfather) passed a few years ago on my birthday!

My grandmother (and it sounds like yours too) lived a wonderful and very happy life. She was loved by all those around her and touched everyone's heart that she meet. She will be missed, but she is also at peace now and can go yell at my Grandfather!! :)

Thank you again for your great memories! ~KM

waitingforarainbow said...

Maria, I love the way you tell your stories. It's like you put me right there in the room with you. I could feel the hospital room, I could feel your nanis house in the summer.:)
I am so sorry to hear the news, but it lightens my heart knowing that you're making the best of the situation. I am sending a million hugs and prayers your way, Maria.
I always enjoyed the posts of your nani, and her pictures. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Those pictures are beautiful!!!
One more thing... she's right. You will make a fantastic mommy one day. Love you Maria, keeping you and your family in my thoughts!

Ericka said...

So sorry to hear about the loss to your family of your Nani. I loved your story though and cried while reading it. You have a great way of writing that pulls the readers right there with you. Anyhow, I also wanted to say that she looks Hungarian and I can just imagine her speaking in some of the curse words. I spent a year in Budapest in my teens as an exchange student and some of the only words I remember are curse words. LOL. Anyhow, your Nani is will be a great mom someday and I can't wait to read about it.

Erin said...

Maria, you have moved me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Nani sounds like an amazing person. I remember when my mom left this life and stepped into the next. We were lost without her for a while, but we rejoiced that she was out of her wheel chair and rejoicing with her Lord! I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your Nani with us.

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

I was actually just thinking about one of my sweet grandmas today before I read this. I like to think that she pops in from heaven and checks on my family from time to time. I even think my young daughter saw her once after she passed away, though I know that makes me seem a little crazy!

I'm so sorry for your loss Maria. She sounds like amazing lady that I'd want to know. Sending love and praying for your family to find comfort.

mag said...

Hi beautiful girl - I am so sorry for your loss and hope you know your entire family is in my prayers. I can't even imagine what these last several days have been like. I wish I could come out there and give you a big hug. Hang in there hon.

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Hi my friend. I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like such a terrific lady and she was lucky to have a granddaughter like you. Your family is in my thoughts. I am giving you a big virtual hug from me to you and your family. xxoo

Stephanie of Gumdrop Pass said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Maria. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

...but what a beautiful relationship you had with your Nani! The entire post brought tears to my eyes -- so beautiful and so real. It must have been hard to write about those days in the hospital, but the way your whole family came together -- wow. How powerful and awesome.

It seems that she and you shared something very special. I'd be willing to bet you've gotten yourself a new angel to watch over you.

<3 Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Maria, I'm so sorry it's taken me this long to acknowledge your beautiful post to your Nani. Please accept my condolences as well as my prayers to lift you up in life ash she is lifted in HIS kingdom. I know loss all to well & the stages you must allow yourself to go through. Keep her memories close always so one day you may share them with your little girl or boy. It will happen, I just know it!!!!! Love & hugs with prayers included to you and your family during this time. Coopy

Mrs. E said...

I teared up just reading the first couple of sentences.. Your Nani sounds like a beautiful person, and I'm so, so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and sending lots of love and hugs your way. XOXOXOXO

Brittany said...

Maria, I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet Nani. She must've been such an amazing woman. This is a very special post; I'm sure she is smiling down on you from heaven. Prayers to you and your family during this time.

Jessica @ TheCrazyChaoticHouse said...

I am so sorry for your lost. I am so close with my own grandmother and cannot imagine the day when she is no longer here with me. Two days before Christmas my husband lost his grandmother and it was so very sad. Seeing her laying in the bed hooked up to the machines just as you described is so painful to see. And we were all there as she took her last breath as well. It's a very hard thing to watch and explain. No matter how old or how sick someone is its never easywhen they go. My thoughts are with you and family.

Rachel said...

Maria I am so very very sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for your and your post made me cry. It made me think of when I lost my grandparents. She will always be with you and I am sure she will be watching over you and your family. BIG HUGS!!!

Stephanie @ Blonde Highlights said...

I am so sorry for your Nani and for your loss. She is in a better place and will be looking out for you in all of your years to come! It sounds like she was a wonderful woman.

Hugs hugs hugs!

Olivia : I am still learning said...

I'm so sorry for your loss :(

Did Nani know what an amazing writer you are? If not, she does now. What a beautiful post for an obviously beautiful soul.


KERRY said...

Oh my gosh Maria!! How did I miss this post?? I am so sorry I did and I am so sorry for your loss. Your Nani sounded like a wonderful, loving grandmother, and the love you have for her is evident.
I hope the pain eases as time goes by and even more beautiful memories rise to the surface of your time with her to carry you forward into 2012.
Love to you my friend xoxox

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