This morning I woke up early and realized we had a voice mail on our phone -- a voice mail that hadn't been there when we went to bed. Most of our phone ringers are turned off, because they have a tendency to ring and wake up napping kidlets, but this time it was the grown-ups who slept through the call.
When I woke up around 4:00, I checked the phone and got a message from my mother-in-law that her mother-in-law (my husband's grandmother) was in the hospital and my in-laws were headed north from their home in a far southern state. Through more phone calls, we learned that the situation was serious and unlikely to get any better.
Since my dad is here in town staying with us, we left him with the kidlets and headed over to the hospital. My grandmother-in-law had something happen yesterday -- they don't know for sure what -- but it left her with severe bleeding on the brain and probably brain dead. The doctors took her off the respirator, but this beautiful woman, full of so much life and vitality, has a heart that keeps beating and lungs that keep breathing steadily on. No one knows for sure what the time line will be.
And so we stood together and chatted as families do. Crying at times. Laughing sometimes. Thinking about all the stories one can tell about a person who has lived a long and full life. I'm relatively new to her life, having only known her about 14 years, but she's been such a lovely person to know in those years. I've learned a lot about gardening from her and owe most of the day lilies in my garden to her. I was hoping some time to go up to her house again and divide more plants, but I have so many already that I can look at and remember her and the corner of the world she filled with flowers and beauty. She also loved books and loved to give books to her great-grandchildren for all occasions. We have those to help us think of her often.
It seemed and still seems wrong that we've been in the hospital much of the day for the wrong person. I've been planning to go to the same hospital any day now for weeks. Planning to welcome a new person into the world. My plans never involved watching someone leave it.
5 years ago