Tonight we stood by grandma's deathbed and talked about these things as she listened to our conversations flow and eddy around her. A distant cousin has had a new baby. A close cousin has just received closure at the trial of her lover's murderer. The pastor who performed my grandpa's funeral has since died. Grandma's only living sister, in a nursing home with dementia, recognised her when last she visited--"that's my sister, Mim!"
She'd told the doctors that she has tired of the fight, and there is a new lightness and frail finality to her countenance now... a look of relief. Everything is arranged, everything is paid for. Now there is nothing but the waiting; we are past the point of no return. It's okay to stand around and hold her hand and talk about the way the world will spin in her absence--she wants to hear us talk a little about the old times, but she seems comforted by this talk of other passages from existence out of it again, and babies brought into being, just starting their lives.
She is sure of where she will wake up, as sure as a person can be, and she drifts while we talk and joke and hug and wipe our eyes. We've not completely disintegrated as a family--she has brought us together again, at least one more time.
Three times, she told me how glad she was that I had come.
Every time she drifted, I wondered if I'd said the last thing I would say to her. She is a different person, this sudden new old Mim I don't entirely recognise... and it's not because her body has changed.
I stood at the end of her bed and I watched the LCD at her feet monitor her ever-decreasing weight. This death is like disappearing... I imagine her evaporating slowly and neatly into nothing, blinking out of existence like a black hole.
Goodbye, Grandma. Hawking radiation may always remind me of this ending, but I'll also have a lot of happy memories. I hope you sleep well--you do look so tired.