It’s bad enough to lose your grandma,
but it’s worse not knowing
if a part of her
is still present.

I was six months pregnant and had just returned from a three week visit home to see my family.  My gram hadn’t been feeling well that summer. When we talked on the phone each day, she didn’t sound like her usual self.  Yet I didn’t realize how bad she was until she made the 45 minute drive to town to meet me for lunch (our tradition was to have a final lunch before I flew back). When she got to our house, she slowly shuffled up to the door (so not her).  I felt incredibly guilty for not driving up to see her. I didn’t realize.

I had been back in Toronto for a week.  I was getting ready to go camping with my best friend Anna and her family for the weekend.  I didn’t call gram before I left. I thought I’d call her when I got back. I would have lots of stories to share with her about my weekend away.

I stayed one night.

We packed up our stuff in the morning for a fun day at the beach.  We were setting up our camping chairs in the sand and Jenny’s boys were playing in the water. I sent Eric a quick text to say hi.  I finally had enough bars on my phone.

His first question,
Are you alone?
No, I’m at the beach with Anna.
My phone rang.
Something, something, something…
your gram is in the hospital.
she’s unconscious.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation.
I do remember staring out at the lake.
holding my belly
and thinking to myself,
Oh my god,
Oh my god,
It’s happening.

she’s gone.
Gram is gone.
I’ve lost her.

I cried as I packed up my belongings.
I needed to go home.
Eric was worried about me
driving home on the 400
alone.

When I walked into our house
he was standing in the kitchen
waiting for me.
He just held me
as I sobbed.
I should have called her.
I should have called her before I left.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.

The next nine days
were so incredibly hard.

Gram had a stroke
and although she was unconscious
the doctors weren’t sure
whether or not she was aware
of what was going on.

She might be able to hear things.

I don’t know why
they told us that.
To me,
this was devastating.

I thought about her lying there
feeling trapped inside
not being able to talk
or say what she needed.

I didn’t want her to feel scared.

I debated every day
whether I should go home or not.
I would wake up in the morning
and start the process
of booking my flight online,
to then dismiss the idea by lunch.
I didn’t think I could handle
seeing her like that.

I told myself
that I should be at the hospital,
to sit and hold her hand
or to lie next to her
with my big round belly,
and yet I knew
it would break me.

I texted my mom non-stop
asking for updates
and trying to make sense
of what was going on.

Gram had told Mom,
Auntie Lynne and Uncle Kel
(while she was still conscious)
that she didn’t want to be alone.
They each took shifts sitting with her
throughout the night
and during the day.

On day 9,
I asked Mom
to put her cell phone
up to gram’s ear.
I wanted to talk to her.

I had big plans of telling her
how much I loved her
and how important
she was to me.

Instead,
I stood standing
in the middle of our basement
my face contorted
in the ugliest way
trying not to cry.

I didn’t want to upset her.
I would talk when my voice was calm.
I wanted to be strong.
I wanted to reassure her
that everything was okay.

Mom came back on,
Lainie, are you still there?
I managed a quick,
yep.

She put the phone back to gram’s ear.
I was able to get out,
Hi Gram,
it’s Lainie.

I don’t even remember
if I was able to say,
I love you.
even though
she already knew.

That evening,
Uncle Kel had a feeling
that he needed to get to the hospital.
Gram passed away
that evening.

I always felt
like she waiting for me
to say goodbye.
Or maybe it was just
a coincidence,
who knows.

But I lost the woman
I admired
most in my life.
I miss her
so much.

She thought I was smart.
She was so proud of me
and told anyone who would listen.
She was the person
who made me believe
that I could do anything
I wanted to.

Losing her
was a pretty hard blow.

And if her death wasn’t enough,
two weeks later
I started a new job.
A job that didn’t feel like me,
but I applied anyways.
A job where I joined a team
where my presence
didn’t feel welcome.
Their leader had left
and they had a different replacement
in mind.

I had just lost my gram.
I was 6 months pregnant.
and felt so alone.

Going on my first maternity leave
was exactly what I needed
when I felt like I was drowning
in every possible way.

I remember standing naked in the shower
with my big belly sticking out
sobbing uncontrollably.
The water running down my body
but not feeling it.
Eric pulling back the curtain
and stepping in
holding me as I cried.

This poor baby, I said
He’s probably wondering,
what’s going on?!

Gram never knew his name.
Tate.
She would have liked it.
We chose George as a middle name
in memory of her (her maiden name).

Gram knew that if the baby was a girl,
we would have called her Charlie.
She loved that name.

So when we found out
that our third baby
was a girl,
it felt like
she already knew.

Our Charlie.