Apparently, there are 4 things you should say to someone you care about who is dying.
- Please forgive me
- I forgive you
- Thank you
- I love you
When it came to say goodbye to my grandfather, I forgot all of those except for one. I love you.
He is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, and hardly ever talks. When I visited him six months prior, he didn’t know who I was. My mother asked him if he remembered me, but he said no. Still, when he looked at me – perhaps it was just wishful thinking – but I sensed some recognition. I look somewhat like his sister did when she was my age, so maybe he didn’t know it was *me* per se, but had a sense of my familiarity.
This time, he was bed bound and slept most of the days. Sometimes he seemed to know people were around, and sometimes his eyes drifted into an invisible distance. My father has already lost both his parents, and told me he thought my grandfather was nearing the end. “When they get this way, it’s usually a matter of weeks.” We were visiting from America, so this was probably the last time I would see him alive.
My final day there, I had a few minutes alone with him right before I left. He was awake and looking out the window, and I walked around to be in his sight. I couldn’t talk loudly, because I was on the verge of crying, so I bent over his bed to bring my face close to his, and put my hand on his.
“It’s time for me to go now,” I whispered.
“I just wanted to tell you, that I love you very much, and I wish you the best with whatever comes next.” Then, I kissed him on the forehead.
He opened his mouth as if to respond, but no words came out. So, he looked right at me, and smiled. I think I smiled back, I’m not sure.
Then, his eyes drifted away again. I looked back at him one last time as I walked out the door – and that is probably the last image I will ever have of my grandpa. Laying in bed, blue eyes vacant as he stared at things I could not see. I hope those things were beautiful.