It is hard to put this to words - I spilled them out in a tumble and flow powered by exhaustion earlier today, rambling to our behavioral psychologist on staff, who provides me with what therapy I need, when I need it. I think she likes to listen to me ramble. I needed to talk, needed to sort through the lingering guilt I feel for the way I feel, and to understand.
I am sad, grieving in a vague and distant way. I have felt almost as much emotion at the passing of ICU patients; I am not prostrate with grief, neither stunned nor shocked. I am, rather, almost relieved. This has been a long time coming - more than five years of occasional updates on a woman who was powerfully willed and who fought death with every drop of it. I have had a long time to get used to the idea.
And I am post-call, and too tired in the depths of my heart to wake emotions quickly.
I remember, viscerally, oatmeal and vitamins and a woman whose back entry room held a handful of toys as a refuge from the fragile loveliness of the rest of her house, tidy and neat. This is the woman who gave me her old English book, who bought me Lord of the Rings, who corrected my grammar and my manners, and my memories of her are vague and clouded. For so many years now, she has not been who she was: a whipcord-sharp spark, a grandmother who could rejoice in my triumphs.
She was at my wedding, in a wheelchair, and I do not know if she remembered then who I was. For the past few years, she recognizes only a few people. I am not one. I have not visited overmuch. I think there may be some lingering guilt there too, although there is also my pragmatism, as painful as that is.
I think, to be honest, I started mourning her more than a decade ago - here, if I were to put a date on it. She aged ungratefully - afraid of dying, fighting it with all her strength, outliving the 19__ carved on a tombstone next to her husband's name. That has always made me smile.
And now I do not know, I do not understand why all of this was necessary to bring tears to my eyes at last, to give me some echo of personal loss. I have become inured to death - no longer afraid of it, no longer instinctively rejecting it. It is merely there, an omnipresent facet of living.
My grandmother is dead. It seems surreal, unreal, too late almost. But there is an echo in it of grief, still, and mourning.
I wish I understood.