Lauren's great grandma died Sunday night. We knew she was sick and didn't have much time left, but it was still a bit of a surprise when she went. Instead of taking a few weeks to go downhill--she took exactly two days.
This is the woman that Lauren calls Grandma. Her actual grandma is called Sweetie and looks way too young to be a grandma, so she is just sweetie. Grandma Thora was the white haired lady that baked cookies w/ her, made mac and cheese whenever she wanted it, spent hours playing puzzles and Barbies. Grandma stuff. When I would ask Lulu who she wanted over for a play date, her first request was always Grandma Thora. When we moved this year, we ended up just down the road from her. Lauren and Grandma had a connection that we all wish we had with our grandparents.
I knew that it would be hard to tell her. We had been easing her into the situation for awhile. We had talked to her about how Grandma Thora's body was getting old and broken. When we knew it would just be a matter of hours, we decided to just break it to her. We had originally planned to go over to visit that day (before we knew she was so sick), but instead had to tell her essentially there would be no more visits--ever. She was understandably upset. She worried that Grandma would be scared and would be sad because her "Lulu girl" didn't come to say goodbye. She really, really wanted to say goodbye and to see her one last time. Grandma requested that just a small group of people come. That was the hardest part for Lu, knowing that she wouldn't get to see her just one more time. My husband was about to head over to grandma's, so Lulu drew her a picture. It said "I love you Grandma Thora, you are sweet". That alone made me cry.
After she passed, my husband took Lauren over to her house to visit w/ my inlaws ( I stayed home w/ the baby--it was really late). She cried a bit, and played w/ all her toys and kept asking and asking to see Grandma. My MIL and FIL, in their wisdom, let her. I would have been much more reluctant to let my 4 year old see a dead person. They don't look the same and I would have worried about it making her more worried and scared. Sweetie fixed Grandma up and let Lulu go in to say goodbye. She saw the picture that she had drawn on the bedside table and that made her cry. She got to kiss her and hold Grandma's hand. Derek said she was pretty shaken up but doing ok. She was able to express how sad she was and how much she would miss her.
After a while it was time to leave Grandma's house. Lulu went around to all the people there and gave them each a kiss and a hug. She always does this before we leave. She asked if she could give Grandma a kiss goodbye. When her dad told her no, she got so upset they finally just let her do it. When she went in to the bedroom, she climbed on the bed, put her head on Thora's chest and hugged her and sobbed for a really long time. She then gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her goodbye. She was very, very upset in the car coming home and that night she couldn't sleep. It took her three hours to calm down. She had lots of questions--most of them with the purpose of being reassured that WE wouldn't die. It broke my heart to see my little girl so sad. Thora really was her best friend. This will leave an enormous hole in her life. As she was sobbing in bed and asking me "why do we all have to die?" I could see how scared she was. I have a feeling I will be seeing this look more and more as she gets older. As our kids grow they have to deal with lots of things that are scary and we usually can't do anything to help them. I was so grateful last night that I was able to make it a little bit better. She kept telling me she wanted me to stay with her until she fell asleep. I as able to do something to make it better. I know that is not going to be the case for much longer.
In retrospect, I am still not sure if it was the right thing to let her see Grandma. I don't think I would have wanted to, but she was SO INSISTENT. As a mother I know that she usually doesn't know what she is talking about. Lauren insists she can fly, doesn't need to eat and is the REAL Annie as well. 4 year olds don't always know what they want. I am glad that she got to have that kind of closure. She kept telling me--"if I hadn't seen her I wouldn't be this sad" and
"If we didn't have pictures of Grandma at our house I wouldn't be this sad"..... maybe that is true. It is also true that sometimes life gives us things that are hard. I wish she didn't have to learn that at such a young age, but we all have to learn it sometime. As far as bad things go, it could have been so much worse. Ultimately she is lucky to have had a grandmother like that. A person who really, really cherished her, never made her do things she didn't want to do and was completely engaged w/ her. Don't get me wrong, her other grandmothers really love her too. They still have young kids at home and one lives far away. They don't have the time to devote to a little person because they are still very much in mom mode.
Here is to a wonderful woman, who lived a long and wonderful life. She left behind a family that loved her. You really can't do better then that.
P.S. Lauren's birthday is Sunday. Not only did she loose her grandma, but her birthday is getting switched too.....