We all experience loss in some way, shape, or form. And it's hard. Rarely is it ever easy and that sad part is, I know that even though I've had so much hurt in my life, there are people who have it way worse. I always remind myself that as I find the will to pick myself up and keep moving. In Welcome to My Darkest Hours: Part 1, I told you about the first true experience of loss in my Grandma's passing and the vital role I played and how terribly close I was and will always be to her death. But very soon after, I will start again down another road of tragedy.
I told you about my Grandma, but my Nana played a role in all of this too. I lived in Oregon after my Grandma's passing and oddly enough, my Nana (Great-Grandma) ended up living with my mom too. I got a few chances to visit her while she was there and she was as cute as a button, just as I had remembered her. However, I went for another visit on my 18th birthday and things, like usual, took a turn for the worse.
I just got into town. I stopped at a gas station to buy myself a pack of cigarettes for the first time on my own, but right before I got inside, my mom called. She was freaking out! All I could make out is that my Nana fell.. maybe tripped over a cat? I wasn't sure. I said "Hold on, I'm on my way." I grabbed an extra pack of smokes because I had a feeling I was in for a long night.
And I was.
I got to the house and my Nana was not okay at all. It hurt so bad when she moved even the smallest amount. I managed to get her up into a comfortable chair that was easy to wheel around and decided we needed to call 911. I really didn't want to take the chance of hurting her trying to get her to the car, so we made the call. They came and off we went. X-rays, the whole process through, and 6 hours later, it was almost 3 am and we got the results. She broke her hip. Super common actually. The problem was that her insurance had some type of policy and limitations- I wasn't sure what it was- but she had to be care flighted to a certain hospital in California. But we were in Nevada! What?
When the question came up of who could fly with her, everyone looked at me. Of course I didn't mind taking care of family in a hard situation, but part of me was mad at the world for not even letting me have one dang day for my birthday. My Nana cried to me because she felt she ruined my day, but I put a smile on and told her there wasn't anywhere else I'd rather be. In order to get on the flight in this emergency, I had to be able to sign medical documents until the designated family member arrived, which, good thing I turned 18 because it made me eligible to do so, I guess.
It was hard because I may have been 18 and the most able to take an emergency flight at the time since I was on days off for my birthday, but I was still a kid and I felt so out of my depth with all these medical forms. We made it to California, I hadn't slept, ate, showered, or changed in what felt like days. They prepped my Nana for surgery and it was almost time. Where were all my family members? I kept trying to call everyone's phones, but no one picked up because they were making a 1-2 hour drive to where we were. But the doctors had my Nana so drugged up, they wouldn't let her sign for herself and they asked me to make a decision for them.
I was supposed to choose what anesthesia for them to use, because at her age, the risks were higher for different things. I didn't really understand because doesn't whatever anesthesia work? What did they mean? All I remember was that the "good" kind has a high risk for bringing on dementia, and the "bad" one was even worse. It felt like I was picking from two bad choices. So I called and called my family and no one answered. I had to choose. So I chose the "good" one and off she went to surgery. But I was so scared. Would she wake up and not remember us?
As she was in surgery, family trickled in. They didn't have service so they didn't get my calls. I caught them up and told them about the choice I had to make and how I was scared that I didn't make the right choice. My family reassured me that I did my best and sent me out to have some food and recoup. My Nana was fine. She recovered okay, but my family got into this huge argument. They wanted to put her in a nursing home and some didn't and anytime I chimed in, all the sudden I was a big baby again and apparently didn't have a say. Even though the adult they sent on this huge mission was perfectly capable to make decisions on her behalf. I ended up taking a huge walk, got myself a new phone (cause Happy Birthday) and my dad came and picked me up. I was pissed. I was tired of being told I was a child, so I yelled at my parents and told them to take me the heck to my car in Winnemucca, NV, so I could drive myself HOME.
Fast forward a year or two and I'm stationed at Keesler AFB. I had finished all my training and was settled into my new Unit. During this time, my Nana had developed on-set dementia...what a surprise. I had never dreamt about my Grandma since those nightmares calmed down a few weeks after her passing, years ago at that point. But that night in particular, I had a very vivid dream.
I was sitting at a military awards banquet in my dress blues. I looked over my left shoulder to observe the room and noticed Staff Sergeant strips on my shoulder. That's not right, I won't make that rank for a few years... I must be dreaming. I spoke amongst the people at my table like I knew them, but I didn't recognize them at all. The table was dressed with red and set beautifully. Banquets are never under-done in the military and they make you feel pretty fancy sometimes. Where are I? Why am I here? I looked across the room and through the passing crowd, I saw my Grandma sitting at a table across the room. I locked eyes on her because I didn't want her to disappear. I quickly excused myself from the table and walked quickly to where she sat. As I stood above her, she looked at me with her big smile. Is this really her? I missed you so much Grandma. Why did you leave? She said nothing and smiled. There was a strange silence. But then she spoke. "I told you you'd succeed." I wanted to cry, but I was so happy to see her. "Grandma, why are you here after all this time?" Said nothing. I noticed we were no longer at the banquet. It appeared I was now standing above her as she sat in the subway. She had a person sitting with her, but they had no face. It looked like it was photoshopped out of my mind. But she stopped smiling and I felt terror. She turned her head to notion me towards the person with no face who sat next to her. I steadied myself on the moving subway, focused on this mysterious person and I slowly saw a face develop.
It was my Nana. I dropped to my knees and screamed. I know what this means. I know what this means. I know what this means.
I woke up in a dead sweat, crying loudly. I jumped out of bed, I was freaking out. I was so worried, so I grabbed my phone to call and check on her, and I didn't care what time it was. When I checked my phone I had a message from my Aunt.
"Call me as soon as you get this."