Today’s prompt reads
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I actually cannot think of anything I’ve done that I consider brave. I’ve had people tell me at various occasions how brave I am, but you know what? I don’t consider anything I’ve done brave. I just consider my choices in life the right decisions.
I find myself thinking of the bravery of death today. Maybe it’s because today two of my friends have had to say goodbye to their loved ones, but I cannot erase the memory of my grandpa’s death from my mind. It was the bravest moment I’ve ever witnessed.
My grandpa (Buster) was a stubborn, wonderful, hilarious family man. His family was his number one priority until the very end of his life. He died of a hemorrhagic stroke almost 5 years ago, but I can remember his death like it was yesterday.
Buster had his stroke in the middle of the night, and he had severe bleeding in his brain. He lived for 36 hours after his stroke. Essentially, he was drowning in blood the entire time. He should have died almost instantly, but he held on until all of his kids and grandkids had the opportunity to say goodbye.
I remember being pulled out of school early and arriving at the hospital.
Uncontrollable tears rolled down everyone’s faces as we each were allowed to sit next to Grandpa and talk to him. Though he couldn’t speak to us and was virtually unresponsive, his left hand squeezed our hands as we spoke to him and held his hand. The right side of his body had become paralyzed.
As I sat on Buster’s left side, I was overcome with quietness as my thoughts ran wild. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him; he had raised me and loved me for the past eighteen years of my life, yet I had no idea what to say to him. “You dang fool!” I smiled, whispering one of his most beloved catchphrases. “You heard I was joining the powderpuff team and just didn’t want to watch that disaster, huh?” Tears started rolling down my cheeks once again, and I decided to tell Buster the things I never felt necessary to say out loud. “I love you so much…You mean the world to me. I can’t imagine life without you. You’re everything a girl could ask for in a Grandpa. I…I don’t want you to suffer, but I don’t want to lose you. I’m not ready for you to die,” I cried. I suddenly felt Grandpa’s hand squeeze my own hand incredibly tight, as it had so many times over the years. I glanced down to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating, and sure enough, his soft, gentle fingers were holding onto my own. “I love you,” I choked, kissing him tenderly on the cheek as he squeezed my hand once more.
Though our family consisting of five children and their spouses, seven grandchildren, and one cherished wife clearly broke a few hospital visiting rules, we were all allowed into his tiny ICU hospital room as our Pastor led a service for Buster. The service felt surreal as we all crowded around his bedside, Grandma sitting next to him, holding his hand and stroking it tenderly. Countless tissue boxes were passed around as Pastor began to speak.
The entire scene seemed to be playing in slow motion. Buster’s breathing became more labored as Pastor spoke, and Grandma began to sob uncontrollably. When Pastor told him that it was okay to move on, that the Lord was waiting for him in Heaven, Buster’s body suddenly seemed to grow more rigid and pale. Grandma’s crying grew more intense as she sobbed his name. Tears slipped down everyone’s faces as we watched the scene unfold. Pastor paused for a moment, unsure of what to do before continuing. I remember thinking that Buster was going to die right then in there, right as Pastor gave him permission to do so, just like in the movies. As I watched his body struggle, I prayed for him to be without pain. My eyes turned to Grandma, and I watched her hand stroking her cherished husband’s hand. His body seemed to struggle more, and suddenly his hand moved. His fingers were shaking as he wrapped them around Grandma’s hand. I watched his hand close firmly around hers, obviously squeezing tightly. I began to cry more as the entire room seemed to gasp. “He’s…he’s squeezing my hand!” Grandma yelped, squeezing it back. My grandparents’ love never ceased to amaze me, and the fact that Buster was using his last bit of energy to comfort his beloved wife seemed to make perfect sense.
Buster died the next afternoon, at 1:05pm. His five children and his wife spent his last night alive by his side, crammed into the hospice room the hospital had moved him to when they realized our family of 20+ people wasn’t leaving his side. Almost everyone was in the room when he took his last breath. I remember silently praying that he would find peace, and, a moment later, he was gone.
Buster’s death was the most devastating and inspiring moment of my life thus far. He taught me the meaning of putting your family first, and what it means to be brave.
I find it incredibly hard to believe that it will be five years since his death in April. It simultaneously feels like eons ago and yesterday all at once. I would do anything for one of his bear hugs right now, but I know it’s important to be strong and brave. Buster taught me so. That, and the wonderfulness of Taco Bell. 🙂
Buster always had my back, and I always had his. In this case, I had it literally.