Last night I woke up abruptly at 3 AM to the faint blue color of my TV screen clashing against the darkness of night. My dog was next to me in a sound sleep but I was as awake as I would have been had I just finished a cup of extra strong coffee. Remnants of my horrible dream began flooding me and I recognized the fear as familiar; this was the same fear I experienced as a child and adolescent when I woke up from a nightmare.
My grandmother was laying in the same hospital bed that my grandfather was laying in just a few months ago, right before he died. We were all crowded around her bed, just as we were with him. Only she was much more lucid and coherent than he. She was crying and begging us not to let her go. She didn't want to leave. She looked around at us as if we held the key to her destiny, to her life. But I knew in my heart that we didn't. That it was so much bigger than us. Than her.
She didn't say it, but she was begging us not to let her die. And the pain I felt in my heart was physical as well as emotional - if I could have, I would have given her life, just as I would have given life to my grandfather had I possessed that power.
After coming to my more rational and stable senses, the fear and sadness I felt began to pass. I scanned my surroundings again, feeling comforted by my blankets and pillows cacooning me. I reached for my dog and felt her safe and familiar body.
It's now clear to me that even when we are not knowingly processing grief and loss, our subconscious is turning those pages for us in our sleep. My inner dreamer is trying to make sense of what's passed and perhaps reminding me that more loss will come.
I haven't written much or spoken much about my Gramps' death since it occurred, quite possibly because I've never dealt with death so up-close before. I don't quite know how I feel other than missing his smile while simultaneously sighing in relief that his pain is gone. To watch someone you love endure such tribulation is something that I think most of us can't quite make sense of. Why do good people leave us so early? Why must strong people endure such pain?
There are so many unanswered questions that life presents us as is relates to death--questions we may not have the right to know. Whether you believe in a God, a Higher Power, The Universe, or yourself, you cannot argue that you have no power over death and when it comes. Something larger blows the candle out for us.
Which leaves me with one last remark: when I am able to swim with the current of life, I am able to live in the moments as they happen and fear LESS what I don't understand. I have lived so long wanting to know everything, wanting to uncover all truths and analyze all options. It began to prove to be an exhausting and distracting way of life. I struggle with "letting it be." I'd much rather just give up the illusory control I think I have and let life unfold as it should.
And if I'm struggling with something, perhaps I'll meet it in my dreams.
I love you John Staniec, Schwartz. And I love you Angela Longo Staniec just the same.