I wanted to have this in in time for #UgBlogDay (i.e. Thursday) but decided it’ll come whenever.
Christmas is a few days away; and this year death tried to steal Christmas from me.
My end of year excitement starts mid-year a given year; and this year, that’s the time my granddad passed on. My Christmas got stolen from me.
My family Christmas tradition for so many years has always been to spend Christmas Eve with my maternal grandfather and grandmother. After my granddad’s passing, it became ‘obvious’ that this year was going to be (or feel) different.
Fast forward less than six months later, my grandmother got ill.
I wrote about her, in a post a few weeks ago when she woke up from her surgery and another just a few days ago, after her passing.
You see, when she got sick, she was checked into a hospital and treated by some of the best doctors. And she got well. Fully recovered. She endured a surgery that was so successful that she woke up and days later completely healed from it. Scar and all. In fact, the surgery took away what had caused her illness in the first place. Gallstones.
Three weeks after being admitted at the hospital, she was as good as new and ready to go home. I visited her every single evening / night she was there when I was done with work. Except for the night after her surgery. That one was a mutual agreement between her and I that I don’t go because she knew and I knew I wouldn’t hold it together seeing her unconscious. I’m not that brave. So she told me to go a day after, because then, she would be awake.
On the night of Friday 4th, I was there laughing away with her in the ward. With my mother. As had been the ‘tradition’ for the last three weeks. This time she (grandma) was even happier and more excited because it was her last night in the hospital. She was the happiest person in the entire hospital, I can bet on that. Her visitors over the weeks kept wondering how a sick person had so much joy!! Her surgeon happened to pass through that Friday night and lucky for us, we were there. He read her some test results and told us there was absolutely no illness in her body. The surgery had fixed everything and all the other tests he’d asked for came back negative. And she herself confirmed she had absolutely no pain, could walk and sit on her own and feed on solid food. Things she couldn’t do the time she was brought to the hospital because of the pain she was in. Her scar from the surgery was 95% sealed up and she was good to go. We made Christmas plans and she couldn’t wait to get back to her animals and gardens. The surgeon said he’d check on her first thing in the morning and discharge her. She was healed.
The very same night, Friday night, as we parked in the hospital parking lot, I got out of the car to direct mum. That’s when I noticed a young girl walking towards me. I honestly don’t remember noticing her as we drove into the spot. Strangely. Out of nowhere, literally, there she was. She wanted to talk to me but was walking behind the car which was reversing so I cautioned her not to walk behind the car. I asked her to first stand aside. When the car was safely parked, I turned to her to listen to what she had to say. She told me her name (which I seem to have immediately forgotten) and that she’d traveled earlier in the day from medical school in Mbarara to see a doctor at this hospital but she’d missed him and was now stranded because she didn’t have transport money to go back to where she was spending the night, Entebbe. She needed some money. The change I had on me at the time was less than what she needed so I talked to mum to top up. As I talked to mum, the young lady asked if that was my mother. I told her she was. And in her own words asked me, “Do you treasure every single moment you spend with her? Don’t you think she’d want to spend time with her mother too?”
I thought this was very strange and rather bold of her and told her, “every single day”. I went ahead to tell her that mum’s mother was actually a patient in the hospital and that’s why we were there that night. We gave her the money and she wished grandma well and wished us a safe journey back home. Minus my mother who was there when this happened, I only told one other person about this. And that was after grandma’s passing.
After the visit, we said our goodnights and like every night I told her I’d see her tomorrow. I’d tell her, “Goodnight, see you tomorrow”. And she would respond, “Thank you.” The first time I heard this I thought it was funny, I didn’t understand why she was thanking me. But then every night I wanted to hear it. And even when I forgot to tell her, I’d run back to the ward and tell her. And with a very bright smile, she’d say, “thank you”. And this night I told her I’d see her tomorrow (Saturday) and she said, thank you. FYI this ‘goodnight-see you tomorrow-thank you’ exchange was actually in English. I have not done any translations. She always told me she needed to speak English to keep up with the ‘young’ doctors. She was such a joy to have around!
Saturday morning. Like every morning, mum took breakfast to the hospital. For grandma and her care taker. She found when she’d had her bath, taken her meds and had her first cup of black tea. She normally took one first thing in the morning to warm her stomach as she waited for the breakfast mum would take her. She was up in her bed and just waiting for the surgeon to come by as he promised. To check on her and then sign the discharge papers.
She thanked mum for the breakfast and sent her off to work, telling her they’d call her to be picked up when the discharge papers were finalized. She was all packed ready to come home. Mum left and told them she’d wait for the call from the hospital.
About an hour later, the call came. Only that all mum could hear from the other side was bp this, bp that, pulse this, pulse that, vein this bla bla bla. And then someone spoke into the phone and told her grandma had passed on. She was supposed to be discharged that morning. The only leaving she (and all of us) had planned for was leaving the hospital, not leaving life.
My mother is one strong woman. How she didn’t pass out from this, I have noooo idea!
What happened was, after having her breakfast and meds, and even a bathroom break; while on her bed, she ‘dozed’ off. She simply slept off. Calmly, quietly, peacefully, nobody saw it coming….Even her doctors who’d seen her so well and alive in the morning were caught off-guard. Nobody saw it coming or imagined it. Efforts to resuscitate her were in vain, she’d already gone.
Turns out her pressure made a sudden, rapid, grave drop. Too fast for anyone to notice in time. It was nobody’s ‘fault’.
This is exactly how God had planned it. That he would take her, but first he had to make sure she was pain-free and that she would have a painless departure. This is why he let us have this time in the hospital with her. To watch her heal from a very painful ordeal from when she first checked in to brand new and completely healed on the last day.
My Christmas was stolen from me all over again.
In the village for the funeral, one of my aunts and I ‘called dibs’ on grandma’s bedroom. You might want to Google what calling dibs is. Grandma’s bedroom was going to be our bedroom for the entire time we were going to spend in the village. Mum had to be with the rest of the mourners so the room wasn’t an option for her. So my aunt and I shared it as sleeping space for the nights.
On the morning that we were leaving the village back to Kampala, we decided to put grandma’s stuff together so we’d leave the room organized. While we were doing this, I came across a small envelope addressed to her. When I opened it, it had a Christmas card in it that someone had given her years ago. On opening the card to read it, the sender was my aunt. Same aunt I was sharing the room with. I showed it to her and we just stopped what we were doing and sat there speechless. Dumbfounded! She didn’t remember what year it was she’d given it to her. But she knew it was a very long time ago.
I was stuck between wailing and smiling. I smiled from the heart. My heart broke, but with joy this time. We showed mum the card and her reaction was same as ours.
It was her. It was grandma. She’d wished us a Merry Christmas. We just knew it. Of all the things we could have found in the room, this was it. It wanted us to find it. She wanted us to find it.
Death tried to steal my Christmas, but heaven gave it back to me. And this morning, I woke up with a thankful heart for grandma’s life and put up the Christmas tree! Because I got my Christmas back. She sent it back. 🙂
I miss and will miss her everyday, especially on Christmas days. It definitely will not be the same. It will be different, but it hasn’t been stolen.
Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂 ♥♥