January 22, 2009

The Fall

You know how when you're watching a movie and everything is going right for the main character (she's met the love of her life, won the lottery, and finally gotten that publishing deal for her novel, let's say) tragedy strikes? Well, I always kind of expect life to be like that, too. Maybe I watched too many ABC After-School Specials as a child. But whenever things are going too well I get a little niggling feeling in the back of my head that a cliff lies hidden in the brush just ahead of me, and I'm about to go careening over the edge.

It was especially bad just after I met Warren. I was convinced that since I'd finally found the love of my life (Not that it took a long time. I was 20.), he would die. And, of course, after Jerry was born I felt the same way. You should have seen me the first time we took him in the car. I was a wreck--certain that every car within eyesight was out to get us.

I've mellowed out a bit since then. But guess what just happened? Things were going great. Remember? Everything was just falling into place. I was really happy. So happy, in fact, that I had started noticing life's little wonders--like, stop signs, for instance. Isn't it amazing that they actually work? I mean, it's a steel post with a red sign on top but they actually regulate the traffic. People stop when they see them. Seriously, stop signs were making me happy. That's how blissed out I was.

So, the fall had to be coming, right? And it has. My grandma (the one whose husband died at Christmas) is still in the hospital and the doctors are recommending hospice care. Now I know this isn't a tragedy. She lived a long full life and that's something to celebrate. It just makes me sad. We all knew it was coming--eventually. But you have to understand that my grandma is one of those people who has a gift for avoiding death. I mean, she has heart problems, emphysema, and she's blind. She's been in and out of the hospital countless times during the last five years. In fact, Christmas just isn't Christmas anymore if Grandma isn't in the hospital with pneumonia. Every time she goes in we all think, "This is it. It's the last time." And then she gets better. Always.

Logically, I knew there would be a time when she wouldn't come out. I even got a little irritated with my grandma for not wanting to sign the DNR (do not resuscitate) form. I thought it was crazy that she'd want to be kept alive by machines. What kind of a life is that? And why would she want to put her family in the position to finally say it was time to pull the plug? But she has steadfastly refused to sign it. She chose life. Period.

So I was surprised yesterday when my mom sent me and the rest of the family an e-mail saying that grandma had spoken to her doctor and decided to sign the form. When she didn't want to sign it I thought she was being crazy (and a little selfish--I must admit), so you'd think I'd breathe a sigh of relief when she finally agreed to sign it, but instead it made me really sad. I felt like she had finally admitted her mortality. And I think I liked it better when she was invincible.

Ah well. Warren is staying home from work today and we'll go down to see her in the hospital. My aunt and uncle are already there, my brother and his girlfriend are on their way and my parents and Jenny (my sister) and her family will come down tomorrow. It's lucky that my sister is home for this because my grandma feels a special connection with my niece, Cora. They were both born with cataracts. Cora had to have surgery when she was just two months old (now she wears contacts) and my grandma went through numerous surgeries throughout her life. So she'll be very glad to see Cora.

We'll have a full house this weekend, which is always something to be thankful for. And we may very well be able to have a fire in our fireplace, too! We haven't used our fireplace since we moved in to this house almost nine years ago because we were told it needed to be rebuilt and we just never had the money to spare. But we recently got a second opinion and it turns out they can fix it and they're doing it today. I feel giddy whenever I think about it. So that's a good thing. And Warren has gone out to get some cinnamon croissants from one of our favorite bakeries, which is a really good thing.

I guess the trick to feeling better today (and any day, really) will be to focus on the good things. So that's what I'm going to do. Cinnamon croissants. Barack Obama. Stop signs. Family. A fire in the fireplace. Silver Lake. Sand castles. Good friends. Libraries. Cabernet Franc. Tom Waits. A grandmother's love. Homemade soup. Barack Obama...

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