I have this feeling that it is now time to finalize my book. The book that started with Ricardo and my experience grieving his passing through the eyes and heart of my then five year old son. I couldn’t really finalize it and it seems that now is the time – I have some very sad stories to tell but, somehow, it seems that a circle has closed.
I, that always thought I was going to be writing the story of my family, am ending up writing the story of my son’s family, during his childhood years. A happy and very festive family of five that was almost all gone in just shy of five years! My sister in law is our connection with them now. And we are here praying for her to live a long and very happy life!
Ricardo passed in January, 2013, as you all know. In 2015, we went to Brazil to celebrate my father in law’s 90th birthday! He already had Alzheimer by then and in September that year he passed. Not that this is less sad, but we knew that he had a long happy life, and this can be comforting.
Only seven months later, Newton, my brother in law, passed away also from a pancreatic cancer found out 4 months before! It was an incredibly hard time for my mother in law, as you can imagine.
She was brave enough to hold on for two years but than the longing was too much and she left us only fifteen minutes before her 64th wedding anniversary! She certainly chose an important date to leave us and reunite again with the love of her life and her life partner of almost 62 years.
We knew she was not doing well and decided to be in Brazil for two weeks when we were able to say our goodbyes. My ten year old son was much more aware of it all and as soon as he saw his beloved grandma for the first time since our arrival, he asked me if she was going to die. We had two weeks of emotional ups and downs. Two weeks of a constant reminder of how fragile life is. Two weeks of sadness, happiness and still some memories to carry on with us.
During these last days she was, for once, strong enough to sit with us for breakfast and lucid to talk and answer my questions. I then mentioned to my son that at that same table, around 15 years ago, his dad introduced me to his grandparents. My mother in law mentioned how happy she was and added, “it is a shame that it lasted for such a short period of time!” – almost 62 years together and that was her remark!
It was the first time that my son conscientiously said goodbye to a loved one. The first time he was aware of what was happening and in the midst of all the sadness, I was happy we had this opportunity in life. Fascinating time that is. Sad but beautiful and necessary, as none of us will escape it. As life takes its final steps, I was inclined to read David Kessler again. Vision, Trips and Crowded Rooms was my choice when I came back home.
My mother in law was a very special person in our lives and my son had a special connection with her, such as that on our first night back home, he called me in his bedroom, crying. Unusual as it was, I decided to check my phone and, sure enough, there it was the news that she had passed. I asked my son what he felt and he said: “Just sadness!”
For a few weeks, he would come crying out of the blue and mentioned ‘vovó’ (grandma, in Portuguese). Gently, I would tell him that this is how grieving works: it comes and goes and it is ok to cry and be sad. Again, the story repeats itself, and as sad as it is she had a full happy life. At the very end, she mentioned many times how much she missed her husband and I am sure he was around waiting for her time to join him.
And this is something beautiful to witness!