The Writer’s Corner features poetry, essays, short stories, satire and various fiction and non-fiction from SCAD Atlanta students. To submit your own work for the Writer’s Corner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Shannon Gillespie
I am not a patient person. I will not speak for all people, just myself, and I do not like waiting. So, a situation where I am required to “wait and see,” agitates me on every level. Unfortunately, that’s the space my family and I have spent the last few years in — until this past Valentine’s Day.
I woke up early this past Sunday because of a stomach ache. It’s not a surprise that happened. It is just my body’s favorite way of telling me I’m stressed about something.
As it is the end of the quarter, I have a lot of options for potential sources of stress. I’m sure many of you can relate. But, Sunday morning’s stress was not about SCAD, though now that I mention it, I do have projects I need to work on. No, this particular morning was about my grandmother who died on Valentine’s Day this year.
A little backstory: She was in Hospice care for over two years. This is referred to as palliative care, and it means the goal is not to prevent death, but instead to make the patient as comfortable as possible for when they do eventually pass. I had someone ask me if she had any illnesses, and my answer was simply, “Yes.” They were expecting something more specific, like the flu but she had so many things wrong with her at once no one in my family knew which thing was going to be the one to bring about the end.
Over the course of her degradation, I received many phone calls from my family saying “This is it, this is the time. I don’t see how she’s going to recover.” So, we would wait. And then she recovered. This is the cycle that we were on, for years.
I’ve said goodbye to her more times than I can count. Every time I visited her, the last hug was, “I may never see you again.” Every phone call was laced with what wasn’t being said. “I’m not breathing so good these days” meant “It’s not getting better. I’m not getting better.” “You know, your uncle can get here in eight hours from Mississippi” meant “I’d like to see you one last time.” And, “Goodbye, love you,” meant “Please remember
On Feb. 15, my mom called to tell me about the funeral arrangements. My grandmother wanted to be buried in her hometown. It’s a normal request, but a little challenging. Her home is on a peninsula, jutting into Lake Superior — between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. On this peninsula, there is a bridge that connects to Canada. And, since it is still technically winter, the ground is too frozen for a traditional funeral. So, we have to wait.
At one point, when retelling the story about my day to the closest thing I have to a confessor — my hairdresser, I asked the question “How long can a group of people wait on one person?” Admittedly, I was a little manic at this point and my voice went higher than I expected it to. But my question is sound: How long can I wait to say goodbye one last time?