I have literally been trying to get the pen to pad for quite some time. I have had so much to say and yet once I am at the computer, I just stare at the screen lost for words. Before I even began a sentence just now, I stalled for hours. It feels like you have a foggy head and you are unsure where to start or even what takes precedence to even began to explain it.
The last few years have been a helluva ride and that’s putting it mildly. These hills and valleys have been a force to be reckoned with and if I am being honest…scary. Just when you think you have hit a peak, a storm so mighty makes you feel like you are suffocating, like your feet cannot reach the ground, and when you think you have it all figured out, a gust of wind knocks you flat on your back and you think the likelihood of recovering is nowhere to be found and just when you are ready to give up, the light shines so bright and you see the silver lining and realize it was all apart of the plan and you just had to trust the process.
For the past 2 years, I have been an emotional wreck. For those that will read this, will probably be shocked to know that. I’ve held that in and even uttering the words make me feel funny. It makes me want to retreat, but that part of me, I’ve buried. No more retreating, it’s time to face the music and be transparent because it’s never for us, it’s always for someone else.
I’ve been battling so many emotions. I’ve never known what anxiety felt like until a year ago. I hear people talk about anxiety. I even hear people talk about the medicine they take to even cope with anxiety. Thankfully I am not really into a ton of meds because I feel with the amount and severity of anxiety I have experienced, I would have been probably somewhere overdosed just to cope.
For starters, the anxiety began last year right after my family’s annual 4th of July vacation when my Grandmother was diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer. This was a blow that hit our family hard. My Grandmother was always so vibrant and she lit up any room she entered because of her friendly personality. My Grandmother along with my late Grandfather raised my brother, my sister, and myself. Our family was so close and finding out she had cancer was scary for all of us, including her.
We were always with my Grandmother. We were attached to her. The relationship was different than most because as we got older, the relationship shifted. She literally became our Best Friend. She once told me, she thought of me as her Best Friend. She raised her own 4 kids and then turned around and raised me and my siblings. She even retired for the 2nd time at 79. That’s how vibrant she was. She couldn’t sit still. She moved around better than most teenagers. She was known for loving music and dancing. So, to see her so down from being sick hurt and it hurt bad.
It hurt so bad, I developed anxiety. No one knew this because I kept it a secret because I knew my role as the oldest was to make sure my family stayed positive and prayed up. But, when I was alone, I was struggling bad. I didn’t sleep good at all. I was a walking zombie. There were some nights that I couldn’t even catch my breath from hyperventilating so badly. I cried so much that my eyes would be swollen and sore. Even during the day I couldn’t focus because I was thinking about my Grandmother. At night I was scared because every time my phone rung, I was in fear that it would be the “dreaded” call. Did I mention months prior to finding out my maternal grandmother’s prognosis, I had just lost my paternal grandmother. So, I had not even healed from that loss. I was just not a good headspace.
Did I also mention, my family lived in Atlanta and I had just moved to Michigan in 2015. I was torn terribly. A part of me wanted to just pack up and just run home and the other part of me had a life here with my husband in Michigan and I couldn’t just leave him. I was riddled with guilt. So, I went home as often as I could to visit my Grandmother. My Grandmother and I had developed a routine over the years. We talked every morning while on my way to work to get my daily dose of encouragement (she later revealed that it was I that was her encouragement) and I immediately would call her as soon as my work day ended to talk about my day. Our usual greeting was “Hey Girl…..” She really was my girl. I could guarantee a good laugh because she was so funny and after our greeting, we talked about our day, and then next we would usually talk about my niece Zoe whom my sister had in 2014. Zoe had surely awaken a different type of love in her because they became so close. So close that Zoe didn’t even call her Grandma, she called her by her real name….Betty.
By now you can guess where this is leading up to. But before we get to the ending, by the end of the year last year, my Grandmother had miraculously gotten better. She was back to herself. The months prior to that, we thought we were going to lose her so for it to just be 360, it puzzled us, but we were just thankful. We wasn’t ready to lose her and clearly God was not ready to call her home.
So many times while going this process we kept asking my Grandmother to fight. She has been our strength, our backbone, our everything…..our Matriarch. We just was not ready to let her go and though she kept telling us she was tired, and though we couldn’t understand it because it was a side of her we just existed. She was our everything. She saved us so many years ago and later I believe she felt we saved her too. So, I changed my prayers. I asked God to give her the fighting strength but if He was ready for her, to help us to not be selfish and help us to see that her staying could not be because we didn’t think we could live here without. But in true fashion, my Grandmother fought and because she had always put everyone before her, I knew she was fighting for us and she couldn’t go until she felt we would be okay. She seemed to start improving and we all could breath just a little bit better.
The new year began and low and behold it all fell apart again. We were right back to where it started and it was a slow and painful process. By February, the doctors told us there was nothing else they could do for her and we were given 3 options; rehab, hospice care at a facility, or hospice care at home. We along with my Grandmother decided on hospice home care. At that point it was all about comfort. Even with hospice home care we were still hopeful because she seemed better than what she had been previously. Even with her family and friends visiting, no one could believe she was sick.
On March 1st, 2 days before my 36th birthday that dreaded call came. I had thought about how I would react to better cope with the inevitable. But, you can’t really know until you are faced with it. The call came from my sister just as it had been 12 years ago when my grandfather had passed. I felt like my soul left my body. The only thing that was on my mind was getting to Atlanta to be with my siblings because I knew they needed me.
My Grandmother was laid to rest beautifully on March 11th. I thank God for giving me 36 years to spend with her. I thank God for giving her 81 wonderful years on this earth. It was her turn to rest because she had given so much of herself. Even to the very end, she was thinking of others, but I know in my heart that she was not going to leave here until she knew in her heart that we would be able to continue on without her. She was truly an example of how it is always for someone else. She was the most selfless person I have ever met. I have drawn so much inspiration for the life she lived and all the love she poured into me. With everything she taught us, we can take those lessons and continue her legacy.
The title of this post was drawn from inspiration of a line said in the season finale of “The Walking Dead”. Funny thing is the season finally was April 2nd and I have literally watched this episode specifically for the scene below between Sasha and Abraham several times. It stood out to me and it stayed with me and I found it to be so befitting to my Grandmother and what she gave to not only our lives, but to so many other lives she had touched.
“It’s always for someone else”. That line made me think about why we are placed here. I’ve always prayed for Blessings to Bless others. I whole heartedly believe a lot of what we go through; the trials, the tribulations, the struggle, the ups, and the downs. It’s not always for us, but to help others. How we get over can very well be the encouragement the next person needs.
My Grandmother is missed tremendously but I am at peace knowing that she is no longer suffering and that she can finally rest peacefully. We will always carry her in our heart and remember all the good times. I thank God we cherished her while we had her here.
Betty Jean Williams
September 16, 1935-March 1, 2017