Sunday, September 30, 2007

That good night

The last thing I want is for the blog to seem morbid – but I have another piece of bad news. This Thursday Laima, Mark’s 97 yo Grandmother, was found unconscious in her bathroom. It appears she has had a massive stroke and will not regain consciousness. The worse bit of it is that it may take her body some time to begin to shut down so she may be lingering in hospice for some time. Though we will miss her dearly, I have to admit that her imminent death is not nearly as sad as a run of the mill death. Laima lived a very long, full life and as a very religious woman has been anxiously awaiting death. As she has explained to me it is difficult for her to watch so many of her friends and peers pass away, including her husband, to go to countless funerals and to soldier on as her body got increasingly more pained and slow – all the while knowing that just on the other side of this life is salvation, a glorious date with God. I know she will not be sad to go. What would make her sad is the lingering, or even worse regaining consciousness while being drastically impaired. So for Laima I wish an expedient and painless death, and that her Lord and afterlife be everything she hoped for and more.

On the very positive side I will note that we went to visit Laima just two weeks ago. It was the first time she saw Ray and it really did feel like a very satisfying goodbye though we had no idea of knowing at the time since she wasn’t the least bit ill. Mark went to go see Laima yesterday at the hospital but myself and the boys did not go. If Noah is able to hold on to a memory of her I want it to be a living one. I have explained to Noah that his Gagama is dying – that she is very old and very sick and that it will be very sad to no longer see her but that she believes in heaven and is excited to go there. But it is such a complex and scary concept to describe to kids. To make sure he realizes everyone who is sick is not going to die, that everyone described as old is not on death’s door. But yesterday morning I had him make a card for Laima – to say goodbye, and Mark took it to the hospital. I asked Noah what to write on it and he said “Goodbye Gagama! I will miss you. I love you. And that’s it.” I don’t know if I’m handling all this correctly though since I’m just following instinct. Looking forward I think I will take Noah to her services but I really do not want him to attend the viewing – which will be difficult since I should really be in attendance. But I guess we will get to that when it comes. You folks have anything to share about helping a preschooler deal with death?

So, enough death for the time being. Noah’s second day of school went really well. He got the required four hugs and kisses and marched into class. No crying. And this time he did play with some toys during free time – though he says he hasn’t yet played with any other kids. Miss Laura told me that he was a very smart and funny boy who told her he was a bunny and hopped around the sand box. And also later she saw him with a faraway look on his face so she called him over and asked if he was okay. Apparently he said “I was thinking I should tell a teacher that I have to poop.” This week is the first week he will go on Monday and Thursday, and that the whole class will be together. I’m excited for this because Noah has two friends (Lily & Maia) in his class who have been going on Thursdays and I hope they hope make him feel more comfortable. Though he really is already on his way.

Well I have more but the baby is stirring and I should have been drying my hair and folding my laundry. Always a list of shouldas.


Jen said...

So sorry for your loss- It sounds like you are handling things well, though. I wouldn't let Noah go to the viewing either. That is a little much for someone so young.

lonna said...

I actually used to teach a whole 50 minute class on talking about hard stuff to kids. Death took about half of that time. There's no real "right" way to do it. You really do need to go with your gut. I think that you're doing exactly what you need to do. The hardest part is watching your language, which you are, and being prepared for the off the wall questions that result from their misunderstandings. All the literature says to focus on explaining death as the shutting down of all body systems, but I think that's for older kids, like 5 and above. If he does get concerned there are some great books out there for kids Noah's age. Kids, on average, are about 10 before they really understand death.

On the lighter side, I think it's great that Noah is doing so well at school. What a big boy. I wish my kid would tell a teacher he had to poop instead of holding it in until he gets home and asking for a pullup.