Updated: Jun 12, 2020
Written by: T.M. Brunson
I've never lived through anything as scary as this. I've experienced small earthquakes, hurricanes—but nothing that the people in Puerto Rico or New Orleans have experienced...nothing on a grand scale. Nothing like this.
When this coronavirus first appeared, I thought like how many people thought: this was just another version of the flu; there was no need to stock up on toilet paper or Lysol/Clorox wipes; and etc. I still think this way, to some degree; but now I know that this virus can affect anyone.
It hit close to home when my grandmother succumbed to it around 6am on March 26, 2020. She was 88 years old.
Hitting Too Close to Home
She had been slowly preparing the family for her demise for a couple of years now. We always used to joke that my grandmother had nine lives, just like a cat. She had been in multiple car accidents, has had heart issues, a kitchen fire; but it was the dialysis that had her talking about death.
She would say to me, "Tiesha, I'm tired. I don't want to do this no more." And I would respond, "Grandma, stop talking like that. I would be so sad if you died [right now]." Then, with so much conviction she said,
You better not cry when I die! No, no... If it's my time, it's my time. Don't cry. I've lived a good, long life. And if you cry, I will come back to haunt ya!
I remember laughing so hard when she said that to me because I could see that actually happening. I truly believe there is some kind of life after death; and I knew that somehow, in her own way, she would make good on her promise.
My grandma became sick and was in the hospital for pneumonia. The prognosis was no good. We all had a feeling that this was it. The matriarch of our family—the glue who united everyone, the woman who never held her tongue, the easy-going, baseball-lovin' mother/grandmother/great-grandmother/aunt was dying. And we all knew it.
And my grandmother's nurse was kind enough to FaceTime over 30+ members of our family so we could say goodbye—just in case this was her time to go. We all talked over each other, telling her how much we loved her and how much she made a difference in each of our lives.
I'm tearing up because I'm remembering how I felt this day. I didn't see my grandma as often as my other cousins did because I lived so far away—from Maryland to North Hollywood to south Jersey. I wasn't able to make it to her 88th birthday party in February 2020 because two of my girls had a cheer competition the same day. But, I took all the girls up to see her the very next day.
I didn't know that that was going to be the last time that I would see my grandmother alive. I thought I took pictures; but I guess I didn't because I thought we would see her again. (The pic above was from the time before that when we visited her at my Uncle's house.)
The last time we saw her, we didn't do anything special. We just hung out with her at her place in Teaneck, NJ. She was already starting to forget things and she, once again, asked me who Noa was (my one-year-old). I told her that she was #6.
You had another baby? And it's a boy!
No, Grandma. It's another girl.
Being Strong for the Kids
My Dad only calls me in the middle of the night or early in the morning when he has to share not-so-good news. That's how I found out about my cousin Teia, when she passed away in her 30s, my Aunt Tulip (one of my grandmother's sisters), and my Aunt Mary (Teia's mom).
This time, it was no different.
I remember climbing down the stairs after hearing the news. I wanted to be strong so my girls wouldn't feel the pain that I was feeling. As a mother, I wanted to shield them from this pain so early in life. I didn't have to deal with death, as a kid, this early. It wasn't fair to them.
But I knew that, in order to grieve, they needed to feel all the feels—whatever that feeling meant to them. So my tears began to fall. All of my girls surrounded me, along with their father, while I told them the news. They all looked heartbroken. My sensitive one, #4...she wailed. Her pain was real.
I didn't know what was right or what was wrong in trying to help them deal with this monumental loss.
I looked at all six of her legacies. I held her youngest great-grandchild in my arms and just hugged her tightly. She would grow up never remembering my grandmother; but I will definitely tell her what a strong woman she was until her dying day.
Question of the Day
How have you handled the topic of death with your kids? Did you shield them or let grieve in their own way? Please share on facebook at: @allmommyissues so that another mom might benefit.