My grandmother died quite suddenly on Veteran’s Day. Since she was “only” eighty-eight, and the youngest of my four grandparents, all living until 2009, I wasn’t prepared. In retrospect it seems ridiculous to not be prepared when someone’s eighty-eight, but that seemed young, especially because she was so active and energetic.
Ollie was very close to her, his “GG” (great-grandmother), and as I frantically made plans to visit with her one final time, Jason and I struggled to explain what was happening. It’s been hard for him to comprehend, and it’s led to lots of awful questions and statements.
Now my grandfather, after losing his wife of sixty-six years, with his health already in decline, is nearing his end. We’ve had more time to warn Ollie of what’s imminent and about once a week I sit with Ollie to talk about it.
Ollie’s not entirely clear on the concept of marriage, so often he’ll ask my father if my mother is his “friend”, and sometimes he’ll say she’s his special friend. I like this idea of marriage.
The other day Ollie and I had a talk about GGPa. I told him GGPa’s old body wasn’t working anymore, and that very soon he would die. I started to cry.
“It’s ok, Mommy,” he said softly, looking at me, “because when he dies he can go in the same hole as GG! And they’ll be together, because they’re special friends.”
Somehow that’s the most comforting thing I’ve ever heard.