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As I drifted down the hallway, it seemed endless. With my stomach in my throat I walked. I could not feel my feet hitting the ground, nor notice anyone around me. I just walked. The smell of the place was intoxicating. It reminded me of insulin or disinfectant spray. I entered her room; it was dark. The sound of beeping machines echoed in my ears. I walked to her bed. She was sleeping soundly. Her body was frail and looked as if she was bone covered with skin. She was weak and tired.
The cancer had been eating away at her, slowly devouring her body, life and spirit. She had been sick for a couple of months now. I hated visiting, seeing her so sick it made my stomach churn. I stayed with her at the hospital for a short time visiting. I hated seeing her, my grandma, that way. She was sick from the cancer that came back and this time it was worse.
The cancer began in the fall months of 1992. My grandma had felt a hard, pea-sized lump on her breast. She preceded to see a specialist, Dr. Whall. What she heard wasn’t exactly what she had expected. She had breast cancer. I didn’t expect it either. I was scared for her, scared for me. She was my closest friend, and my confidant and I loved her very much. I spent a lot of time with her. What would I do if I lost her? Fortunately the cancer didn’t take her away. She lost her hair and her left breast, but she made full recovery.
My grandma was as good as new. She and I spent even more time together. I cherished every minute of it, trying not to take it for granted. We went to garage sales in the summer and cooked pies in the winter. Our favorite thing to do was to watch butterflies in her garden. She was the wisest woman I knew always giving me the best advice. Wether her advice was about boys, friends, or other aspects of life she was almost always right. Everything between us was perfect again.
My grandma had been in remission for nine years. She always went for a yearly check up with Dr. Whall. Every year the tests came back topnotch. She was in perfect health. But the good health was short lived, when she went for a check up in 2001.
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She soon became very sick. The chemotherapy was making her very weak and tired. I didn’t visit much anymore. I believe now that it was because I was afraid that every time I saw her it would be the last. I didn’t go see her for a couple of months.
I walked into her room at the hospital, it was dark and the machines were beeping in my ears. My mother had called me, and the cancer was spreading like wild fire. To make the situation worse the cancer this time was more intense. It came back in her hip bone and now had spread to her liver. She was admitted to the hospital for a couple of weeks because of her chemo treatments. Other tests were run and the cancer had spread again. This time it spread to her brain. Dr. Whall suggested radiation therapy to shrink the tumors on the brain. However, my grandma was too weak to withstand chemotherapy and radiation, that alone would kill her. I then asked the question that everyone wanted to know, How long did she have? Dr. Whall informed us that by the time radiation was complete the liver would be 80 percent cancerous. She had two months to live.
My grandma came home on a Sunday. She wanted to spend the time she had left at home with her family, not in a hospital. She died the next Monday. My mother said it was so peaceful. That she was laying on the couch sleeping. All the sudden she opened her eyes, took a deep breath, and within an instant she was gone. My mother said she could almost see the pain leave her body. She was finally at peace.
The funeral was beautiful, peaceful, but also sad. It was hard to let go of such a great woman. People said their good byes and their prayers for us, her family. It was hard to believe she was gone. They put her in the ground on that beautiful April day. All I felt was peace because her pain was no more.
I visit her grave from time to time. The first time I went back to the grave her name was engraved in the granite stone. It was somewhat strange. I knelt down beside the fresh mound of dirt that was over her casket. I had many mixed feelings. I was sad because she wasn’t with me. Happy because she wasn’t in pain. Above all I was guilty. I was guilty because I spent the most precious moments away from her because I was scared. I cried. I felt like the most selfish person in the world. I looked up and dried my eyes. I saw the most beautiful butterfly on my grandmother’s tombstone and in that moment I knew she forgave me.
I miss seeing her, but I know she is with me. She is with me in my thoughts and dreams. She is even the little whisper in my ear. All I have are memories and reliving them, make her seem so real. So real that it’s like she isn’t really gone. I always feel her presence. My Guardian Angel is she.