Please Dont Take My Sunshine Away

You Are My Sunshine

My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away...

My Grandma Is Dying

Two months ago, my father sat down with me and told me that I was about to lose the great love of my life – my beloved Grandma. “She has a very aggressive form of Leukemia that is most common in children. There is nothing that can be done. She has about 3-6 weeks”.

This was the moment that I had been dreading my entire life.

I had to get in my car and drive over to her house at 10:30pm to see her. She was expecting me and when she walked down the hall into the living room, I tried to keep myself from crying so I said, “Grandma, how could you do this to us?” and she deadpanned her response - “I just wanted some attention.”

Grandma has been the one constant in my life. With everything that ever changed in my life, everything about Grandma has stayed exactly the same. Her house is the only home I have ever known.

When I was growing up, I lived in a very turbulent household. My mom and her second husband would continually scream and physically fight with each other. I have a lot of memories of their violence and how it made me feel sick to my stomach. But then I have the memories of the summer when I would come to visit my dad and Grandma and what a different climate it was for me. They spoke so lovingly and respectfully towards each other. Grandma never got mad or yelled. She always had hugs and she laughed all the time. Her love for me was not conditional based on my grades or behavior like it was at home; but rather it was freely given and without reserve. It was such a welcome respite for my brother and me.

Growing up, I was closest to my Grandma. She has always been much more like a mother to me than my own mother was capable of being. Despite the fact that we sometimes lived far away from each other, we always had a deep and abiding love for one another. When I felt sad, I called her. When I wanted to talk, she listened. When I started my period for the first time (on a camping trip with my dad and brother!), I asked my dad to take me to her house. She took good care of me as she welcomed me into womanhood.

When I came out last year and ended my 18 year marriage, I knew that she would be as loving and gracious the same way that she always has in the past. I had waited until after her surgery at the beginning of January to tell her so that she would not worry about me while she was about to go through her medical issues. When she had her surgery, there were complications (they didn’t know she was sick then) and what was supposed to be a 3 day stay in the hospital turned into 6 weeks. We all took turns sitting with her.

One night while I was at her bedside, she told me that she knew that I had been unhappy for a long time and was there anything that I wanted to talk about? So I just told her right there in the hospital.

This 78 year old steel magnolia did what very, very few people in my family did. She listened to me. She didn’t judge me. She told me how sorry she was that I had tried so hard for so long, that it was nothing to be ashamed of and she was not ashamed or embarrassed, that I would be okay and that she would always love and support me. She just wanted for me to be happy and be with someone that I could love and who would love me back the same way – the way that she had loved my grandfather.

I got to hear about how she met him and that she fell in love with him that same day. They were engaged 3 days later and married 3 months later. They stayed married until he died over 30 years ago. She has never dated another man and she still dreams about him at least once or twice a week. She says she can’t wait to see him again. My dad teases her by telling her that when he died, he was in his early 50’s. She’ll be nearly 80 and he may not want her when he sees what she looks like now.

There has never been a conversation between Grandma and I where she did not call me “precious one” at least once. There has never been a crisis in my life where I did not call Grandma for advice. There has never been a day since my 2 kids were born that I did not pray and ask God to allow her to live long enough so that they could know her. And she has. My 14 and 16 year olds not only know her, they adore her as much as every other person who knows her.

My Grandma has lived past the 6 week prognosis they have 8 weeks ago. She is trying to make it until her birthday this Sunday. We have all been taking turns staying with her, sitting at her feet and listening to her talk to visitors and callers to console them, give them advice and minister to their spirits.

Recently, I crawled into bed with her to pray with her before bedtime. I could barely get “Our Heavenly Father” out before I began to cry like a baby. How will I live without her? I really don’t know. I can’t even think of what I will do each day knowing that she isn’t going to be there. The person that I love the most in this world will not be with me for the rest of my life and I have no idea what my life will be like without the great love of my life.

I trust in what she tells me and everyone else who is struggling through this. She says every single time we talk, “Shan, everything is going to be all right.” And I know it will.

God, thank you for her life and the impact that she has had on me. You knew that I would need balance to be able to see good and bad and you gave me the very best role model in her. Please take good care of her until I see her again. Thanks….


girl2grl said...

Wow, your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing this story, they say there are angels walking among us and it is nice when you hear about someone like your grandmother, because then you know it is true.

Tina-cious.com said...

This made me cry. And I was already an emotional mess today.

I'm so sorry. I wish I had a grandma like that.

You're very lucky. Sounds like she is too.

letuck11 said...

shannon, this breaks my heart. how lucky are you to have someone like this in your life. she is your rock and has taught you so much and helped mold you into the wonderful person you are today. now you get to be that person for someone. what a gift. :)

springlady477 said...

This hit home for me today. Like you, I had a grandmother who was, too me, a living angel. She raised me from 6 months old when my mother didn't want any parts of me and my sisters and I thought the world of her.

When I was 17, a junior in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a small lump but she assured me everything was going to be okay. But it wasn't. The doctors sliced right through the tumor when trying to remove it and it spread like wildfire, going to her brain, stomach, and lungs. They tried radiation therapy and chemotherapy and nothing was working. The doctors finally just put her on a slew of pain medication to keep her comfortable. She spent her last days at home and a hospice nurse came and took care of her up until her last day with us. The day before she died I told the school nurse I had to go home and I spent the afternoon at her bedside. Everyone kept saying she had no idea I was there but when I slid my hand into her now fragile hand and began singing "Candle on the Water" to her, she gave me the gentlest of squeezes and I know she knew I was right there with her. The next day I came home from school and I wasn't home for 5 minutes when she passed. Part of me feels like she waited for me to come home before she went. And now, 14 years later, I still cannot get past the fact that the only woman who showed me unconditional love and showed me what family really meant is gone. I'm angry that God took her from me. I wasn't ready for her to leave me and I haven't been the same since she died, but I know that she is no longer suffering.

So, with that, I understand what you are going through and wish that there was something that I could say to make the loss easier. Just rely on your friends and family to help you through this. It's going to be tough because you love her so much and because of the bond you share. Thank you for sharing your story. In some way, you've helped me a little bit more.

kimo said...

What a strong and great woman she is...remember that and carry the same torch, my dear!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put during such a sad time. They don't make 'em like her anymore (unless one counts you!). Best, Kathy King

Niko said...

As I read this all i kept thinking was..."This could have been written by me". Although My grandmother is a healthy 84, i too have wondered what my life will be like without her. She has also been the only constant in my life... i came out after 11 years of marriage and i too have children that i hoped would be able to know her as i have (and they do!) there is not a day that goes by that we don't talk at least 5 times just because. my whole heart is with you now in your time of sorrow, cherish EVERY LAST SECOND THAT YOU HAVE WITH HER!!! I'm not a very religious person but i will say a prayer for you and your family! xxxooo, Niko

Renee Gannon (aka Lesberita) said...

This really brought tears to my eyes and made me think back on my own Grandmother, who passed away suddenly 3 years ago after a really long, life. You are lucky to have such an amazing person in your life like a Grandmother, and at least you can let her go knowing she was an incredibly loving figure in your life and lived her life to the fullest. You and your grandmother are in my prayers.

johnnylockheart said...

Wonderful tribute. Sorry about your grandma, she sounds like a really awesome lady. Losing someone you love always hurts, no matter what the circumstances might be. Hope she keeps defying the odds for a while longer. Best wishes in this difficult time. Mike

Anonymous said...

I see where you get so many of your great qualities as a human being. I wish there was a way I could freeze time for her and have her around forever, but I would not want to deny her the possibility of seeing her one great love. It will be OK darlin'... I know those words may seem shallow and hollow, but there is a purpose beyind what we can see or touch.

She loves you, and you love her, there is nothing seen or unseen that can change that, not even death. My heart hurts for you, and I am praying for your heart to have some peace.

Sit at her feet with a tape recorder dear one, capture as much of her as you can, for yourself and for the rest of the world. Have her tell you her story, write it for the rest of us.

I adore you!


Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful story and thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading it and it made me cry. I'm sorry that you/she is/are going through that but it sounds like she had a great life and it's time for her to move on. I hope you're doing well. We love you!

Gillianne said...

That is such a beautifully bittersweet story. I'm moved to tears, ask anyone who knows me, that does not happen often.

I'll be sending positive thoughts for you and your grandmother your way. You have my sympathies. {HUGS}

thewishfulwriter said...

I am wiping tears fast and furious. I know how much you love her, what she means to you, and undoubtedly, what you mean to her. It's such a blessing to have such a close relationship with a grandparent and the pain I feel for you is matched by the fear that I'll be going through this one day with my own beloved grandmother and while I know each of us will make it through, it will be one of the hardest things we'll ever do. I love you and am here for you.

thewishfulwriter said...

ps. i LOVE the rockstar picture of your grandma!

Sinnerviewer said...

Thank you to everyone who left me such sweet, encouraging words. It has been a source of strength for me today. xoxo


Meleah Rebeccah said...

Oh Monkey.

I am sooo sorry this is happening to you.

This story brought me To Tears.

I am sending love and hugs.

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

Oh Shannon - I have been thinking of you all week while on vacation & now I know why! I just got home & opened my email & got this...
Please know that you and your Grandma are in my thoughts & prayers.
~Shawn (& Olga)

Anonymous said...

Dear pal,

How I can relate to your sadness so much. I too had a wonderful grandmother who was more like a mom to me. Loved me unconditionally and gave me my great love of baking. :) She also gave me to be "Jesus with skin on" and to help whenever there was a need attitude. I loved her so much and I still am sad at times without her. I do feel her presence with me though still. She appears to me in dreams with a sweet smile or a hug which is wonderful. When I am baking I can still feel her love as she put it into everything she did. All this to say, I understand how you feel. God has truly blessed you with a precious Grandma that has impacted you with so much love and given you a positive outlook on life. I'm sure her memory will live on with you as you continue to make an impact on the world and others with your kind heart. With a love as strong as you and your grandma, time can not separate. I know you will see her again one day. And she will be waiting on you with the "Rock On" sign with her hands! :) Cherish the wonderful things she has given you that money could never obtain. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE...it's a very rare gift.

I'm thinking and praying for you always,

Your Phorever Phat Phriend - G

CJ said...

Wow. I am really to hear this. Your Grandmother is a remarkable women. So much love their between the two of you. You are in my thoughts. I'm wish you much peace and strength during this difficult time.

~Julie Phineas~ said...

Happy Birthday Grandma! Sending All Our Love and Prayers to You and Your Family.


~The Phineas Family~

Anonymous said...

Jeez, I'm crying my eyeballs out here at work!

There is always someone in our life that when we think of losing them we instantly feel lost ourselves. You have no idea how you will function without that person. You have no idea what a full day without them in the world will be like. Truth? You gain a strength that you never thought you had. You gain a perspective that you never knew was there. You become a better person because you know they want that for you. You get through each day just like before only this time you know that there is someone looking out for you and then, then you feel a little bit of peace. I love you Shan. Call me if you need anything.

Melissa said...

I'm sorry, Baybee. I love her. I love you.

Ellis said...

I honestly almost cried after reading that. I'm really sorry. Your grandmother sounds like mine: a strong, loving person who you always feel grateful to have around. Good luck, stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Shann,I just found out that she is gone, and I
want you to know that I love you and I'm so
sorry for your painful loss. Please give
my love to your Dad,Gail,Jean,Mark,the kids,
and the whole family.She was an amazing lady
and is now in a better place.