This is Part 3 and the conclusion of Shannon Sullivan’s “Celebration of Grammy B”. Shannon is a licensed massage and craniosacral therapist and Reiki Master practicing in Green Valley and Tucson. She wrote this story to help others realize how, in the process of grieving, that we can also find a way to celebrate.
PART 3 “CELEBRATION OF GRAMMY B”
by Shannon Sullivan
The practical details of death that have to be tended to makes the grief that much more real. Everyone slowly left the hospital room leaving three of us, my mom, sister and myself, standing around Grandma and the hospital bed. My sister, being familiar with hospital procedure, explained to us that what normally happened next at the hospital was that a capable hospital technician would come into the room and clean Grandma’s body. Kelly made it clear to us that she didn’t want this. She wanted the care of Grammy B to come from her, from us and not someone that didn’t know her that would see her as just another human person that had passed away.
“I want to do this for Grandma,” Kelly said. “ If you want to help you can, if not, that’s okay. I understand.” My mom agreed to help my sister with this next step. I told Kelly that I could not physically help with touching Grandma, but I said I would stay in the room with them. What I watched made me happy to be part of this family.
Kelly and Mom gave Grandma a bath with a wash cloth, gently cleaning her arms and legs and face. My sister took such gentle, slow, respectful care of Grandma. Kindness filled each movement. Kelly found a cup of water and a small comb and dipped the comb into the water wetting the ends. She ran the plastic tines of the comb delicately through Grandma’s black and gray hair. She then retrieved a clean hospital gown from the bin, and my mom and her dressed Grandma in the fresh linens. As they finished, I marveled at their strength in that moment. I felt blessed by it.
“Now what?” I asked inside myself. Each step seemed harder than the one before it.
We pulled the curtain back from the hospital room, and my dad was seated in the waiting area resting. He stood up, and Kelly, Mom and I walked out of the hospital room together. My sister pulled the curtain closed behind us. The last act of a great play of Life had finished. No applause greeted us, however, only silence and tears.
Having left the hospital, we arrived back at my parents’ home. The face of the kitchen clock read 8:30 p.m. My sister’s husband, Richie, was there with my two-year-old nephew, Cole. We were all exhausted and wanted to rest. The words of the promise I had stated out loud in Grandma’s hospital room played again in my mind. I wanted to make sure and honor Grammy B’s wish. I said to my family, “So. Where are we going to eat?” Everyone looked at me as if I had grown two heads. They said, “Shannon, it’s late and we’re tired. “ No one budged. All standing in the living room, my sister seated at the dining room table, Cole seated in his dad’s lap. I said, “Wellllll ….. I guess we can go tomorrow.”
Now at that same moment, create this picture in your mind, next to the dining room was our kitchen. In the kitchen stood a large, black Kenmore refrigerator. On the doors of the refrigerator sat a small grouping of plastic, magnetic farm animals next to a plastic, magnetic barn, red and yellow. Cole loved to play with these magnets because each one of the animals let out corresponding sounds when their bellies were pushed. Noises like oink, quack, ney were often heard in the kitchen on previous days of Cole’s visits. At this moment in time, however, no person was in the kitchen. As soon as I had uttered the words …”we can go tomorrow”…. a long, loud protestation cried out from the magnetic, plastic farm cow on the kitchen refrigerator saying, “Moooooooo.” We all looked at one another, surprised and taken aback. Simultaneously and without further hesitation, we all blurted out, “Well, guess we are going to dinner tonight!”
Everyone grabbed whatever or whoever was closest to them: a purse or child or wallet and keys and headed for the front door. We piled into two cars, baby and all, and headed to the only open restaurant in town at 9:00 p.m. in Yuma, Applebees. We each ordered food and a drink. During the course of this meal, we made a toast to Grandma Paula. We told stories of her life. We brought in memories of her living presence to honor what she had asked of us. Each of us later grieved and cried and mourned in our own way. But this evening we celebrated for Grammy B with good food, good family and fond memories.
Reiki provided me with an approach to a difficult event with a way of honoring life and by blessing death and being present at my grandma’s passing. If I hadn’t had my connection with this energetic flow, her passing may have been more of a tragedy instead of the celebration it should be. My friends and clients asked me often if it was difficult having to celebrate my birthday on the same day of Grandma’s death. I respond, “No. Each year, I am blessed because we get to celebrate with one another. She celebrates in Spirit as I celebrate on earth.”