New year has arrived and I’m yet to decide if it is a happy or sad one. But of one thing I’m sure. This year is one of new beginnings and turning points. Even if those are good or bad, I’m gearing myself up to view all of them as the beginning of something better. The past two or three months were spent doing rounds of and being in the hospital with grandpa. His health issues were popping up one by one. If once it was a catheter bleed, next was blood loss, infections, pneumonia and so on. Between all this, there wasn’t enough time for me to do anything, let alone make those bulky new year resolutions I’d eventually break and feel like a total loser (thank heavens🙂).
We had brought grandpa home (after a long time at the hospital) as per the advice of the doctors and we were to continue the medications at home. Everything was arranged at home accordingly.
January 2, 2016. Around 3.45 am. I was half awake and I really don’t know why. When my grandma came and called me, I woke up like I was already expecting someone to call for me. As soon as I saw her, I didn’t waste time asking her what had happened, instead rushed to grandpa’s room. What I saw there made my heart beat faster. My mother stood beside grandpa, holding his hand and him almost breathless despite the oxygen mask, stuck on a deep breath, inhale or exhale, my brain couldn’t decide. I ran to set up his nebulizer and started it. That’s what the doctors did at the hospital and also had asked us to do. He was struggling hard to breathe. I asked him to try to inhale deep, rubbing his chest and finally we heard a breath. But again, he was stuck on that breath. We realized the nebulization was almost over, and wasn’t improving his condition. We replaced it with the O2 mask. I saw his eyes pop wide and large, the struggle to breathe. During this struggle, even his paralysed hand rose and held my hand tight, the other hand holding my mother’s. All this was happening in a matter of minutes and we couldn’t comprehend anything, let alone calling the ambulance.
We knew that perhaps the time had come but we were reluctant to let go of our hopes and held on tight. We were rubbing his feet and chest and asking him to breathe, all three of us, mom, me and my brother beside him. That moment, that is when I felt something cold and warm. I realized that I was feeling his warm hands against my cold hands. Yes, my heart was beating so fast, I was so tensed, shocked and anxious that my hands were cold and body shivering internally. I could feel myself turning sweaty despite the air that circulated in the room. That’s when my grandpa looked at me and my brother, still holding my hand tight, with a warm expression on his face despite the struggle for breath and then turned his head right at my mom, his hand holding hers tight, gaze fixed on her as if saying goodbye and blessing her. He took a deep inhale… the last one he took.
He didn’t move. Again I felt something warm and cold. This time, it was the warmth leaving his body and cold setting in. His wide open eyes slowly shutting down the light from his eyes, his grip slowly loosening around our arms. All of us were numb. We did not cry, we did not utter, we felt nothing, blank, only blank, and the air around us felt like white noise. The realization didn’t set in. I checked for breath, for signs that he hadn’t left us. I opened his left eye. There, the answer was right there in his pupil. We still weren’t ready to believe it. I checked the time. It was around 4.00 am. There was no use of calling the ambulance. There was no use of putting the oxygen mask. There was no use of checking his breath. It was over.
That moment, I remembered how the previous day, the doctor had checked on grandpa and stared blankly at him for 3-4 minutes, unable to utter anything, tension gradually building up on his face, and how he dropped it and gave us a reassuring look. It was as if he knew something but was reluctant to put it bluntly to us. It was as if he wanted to give grandpa the chance to be with us at home during his last moments. We were far too overjoyed to notice his expressions the other day, as grandpa was recovering quickly, or so we thought. I also unusually spent a lot of time with grandpa the day before kissing his bald head and talking and joking with him. I had told him “Goodnight grandpa, you’ll see me tomorrow right.” And he replied, “Yes, grandpa wants you to shave his beard tomorrow.” And now, I was going to do that, but only to clean him up before his funeral. My thoughts returned back to the present. Grandpa lay there motionless. I looked at my mom. She wasn’t crying, not even sobbing. In fact none of the three of us were. I broke the silence and said “Poyi” (Gone). We called up my aunt and uncle and informed them. We sat next to him for a long time and then started whatever was necessary to do now.The last scene played over and over in my head, on loop.
I do not like the fact that my last memories of grandpa are of his fight for life and struggle to breathe. But I am happy… happy that his last memory on earth was us, all of us beside him, holding him tight and talking to him. He knew how much we love him. And I am happy that his struggle has come to an end. Even if he had survived that day, he’d eventually have to endure multiple organ failures and suffer more pain.
I love you a lot Appuppa. This is a void no one can fill. I’ll miss everything about you. Though I only spent a year with you, I am happy I at least got that much time. I still haven’t cried my heart out on this other than the usual sob. My tears aren’t coming out and I feel mostly blank. The realization hasn’t set in. The time isn’t far when it’s going to burst and I’d cry till my eyes are sore. I’ll miss you, but I know you’re still around, looking at us, blessing us.
Goodbye Appuppa, see you in a better place. We love you.