Last night I had a slumber party with my grandma.
After 30 days in the hospital, she returned home yesterday. Her new living arrangement is 2 doors down from my Grandpa and they didn’t want her to sleep alone.
She thanked me for babysitting her, but I much prefer to see it as a slumber party. Sure there wasn’t any pillow fighting (It may have knocked the oxygen tubes form her nose) but as we went to sleep, I did make her promise not to put my hand in warm water during the night.
Turned out she already had enough to do during sleep. She has breathing challenges so she wakes frequently. I would usually wake first. I would hear her lungs fighting for breath…like snoring, but more violent and desperate. Add that to my concern for her current frailty and I was pretty jumpy.
She is frail because her doctors practically killed her. That was the plan, of course. The way to beat Leukemia is to pump a person so full of poison that cells start dying. Good and bad cells. The hope is that you can get a person close enough to death that you kill off all the bad cells, but still have enough healthy stuff left that you can build yourself back to health.
That’s the part where spirit come in. When an organism is pushed that hard, it can easily decide to die. Enough is enough. It takes something inside to win the fight. Something that doesn’t come in a pill form and can’t be prescribed by a doctor.
At 3 in the morning I woke to her sitting on her bed, catching her breath. It was no reason to be alarmed, she did that periodically through the night. When I checked on her the first time I saw her sitting she even remarked that she was sleeping “great!”
So I saw her on her bed and stared. Her profile was slightly changed by chemo hair loss. Her breathing was heavy, even over the sound of the oxygen machine. Her posture was tired.
But this was not a defeated woman in the room with me. It was a powerful warrior. Battle-weary, yes. But one who took her challenges with grace.
There in the not-so-quiet darkness, I was immensely proud of her. I nearly wept.
In the morning, my mom seemed grateful that I was willing to spend the night with grandma…but I assured her that I was the grateful one. Grateful, proud, and awed.