#4: Part 2- The Wait
Gaek was eventually wheeled into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) where Doctors probed stuff everywhere to find the source of the bleeding. We stayed in the hospital all night- waiting for the Doctors to come out and tell us what’s happening. It took Doctors about six hours to come and tell us that they’ve found the source of bleeding and that we can see him. However, he was heavily sedated.
My two other cousins and myself held hands to go and see him in the ICU. Only a maximum of two or three people could enter at a time. When I saw him, my heart broke. He was lying down on the hospital bed, with tubes and wires EVERYWHERE. Up his nose (where they found the bleeding), in his mouth (for him to breathe and one that was lodged down his throat and into his tummy to drain any fluid), wires on his chest to check for his pulse and heartbeat. There was dried blood in his nose, where I assumed more tubes were inserted inside to do the scoping.
As a granddaughter, I just didn’t want him to be in pain. I just couldn’t bear to see him in that state, with tubes in his mouth and nose and everything. It was too hard. I cried after I said a prayer with my cousins and we all just hugged one another and continued crying on each other’s shoulders outside of the ICU.
After spending the night in the hospital, we all went home to get some rest. I went to the hospital again in the evening to visit Gaek. Along the way, I recalled something the Lad spoke to me about. The Lad told me how he starts his day every day by listing down 10 things he was grateful for. So I told myself, I’m going to try this. I listed down 10 things I was grateful for in the midst of all the sadness I was feeling and I found them. I found 10 things.
I reflected on all of the 10 things and I realised that wow, I am so incredibly lucky to have all this time with my grandparents. I am so lucky to have spent all this time with my grandparents. And for that, I am grateful. I have no regrets with regards to the time I’ve had with my grandparents. It is through that 10 things, that I found the strength to let go of Gaek when the time comes. And since then, I’ve been telling myself to find the things I should be grateful for, before complaining about something.
I went to the hospital every day. And I prayed every day that God will take away Gaek’s pain. I just didn’t want Gaek to be in pain. I want him to feel comfortable and at peace. It came to a point where I just told God that if the way to take away Gaek’s pain is to take him away from all of us forever, so be it. I would rather him not be in pain, than suffer the way he is now. It came to a point where I didn’t give a crap about praying that I get a job. All I wanted was for God to take away Gaek’s pain.
Just when we thought we had no hope, miraculously, Gaek’s conditioned improved- which brings me to #5.
#5: The Miracle
After nine ish days in the ICU, Gaek actually got better. He held our hands so tightly, he responded to us when we talked to him, he even tried to reply me once under his oxygen mask when I said, “I love you, Gaek.” Which was really cute. And then one day, I came to see him and, what do you know! He was sitting up! There was a physiotherapist there to coach him on his breathing and to remove his phlegm build up over the last week or so. He was telling us that he was hungry, because he hasn’t been given solids for almost two weeks. And let me tell you, he was so happy when the nurse said he could drink milo! We obviously had to remind him to sip slowly because if not, he’ll start coughing.
It was truly a miracle and I thanked God so much for that. Gaek was eventually moved to a high dependency ward (one level below the ICU) and then moved to a normal ward. He was slowly getting better. And he was walking with the aid of some nurses and this chair/seat thingy. Shortly after that, it was time for him to go home and he was so excited. He had dietary restrictions though, but that’s something we all can adapt to.
My cousin, Abang Elvin and I picked him up from the hospital that day and brought him home. He was so happy! His face lit up as we drove towards the estate, he was so happy to see Nenek (His wife and my Grandma!) and his room. It was amazing. That face will forever be one I remember.
I didn’t manage to head to my grandparent’s place on the Saturday of that week as I was working with the Lad on a photography assignment. Initially I regretted it, but then I look back and I think I had the best last moment with Gaek- which was to bring him home after almost a month in the hospital. Now, let me take you to #6.
#6: The Relapse
Unfortunately, 10 days after being discharged from the hospital, Gaek contracted a bad case of pneumonia and he had to be brought back to the hospital. This time however, it didn’t look good. Gaek’s lungs were so badly infected that they were failing. Doctors informed us that we should all be prepared for the worst. I went to the hospital every day, spent as much time as I could with him, and read him Yaasin.
Unlike before, he was not conscious anymore. He didn’t open his eyes, he didn’t squeeze our hands tightly, he didn’t respond to us. He did a few times, but when I was there, he didn’t. His breathing was heavy. It was like he was gasping for air. We could see his body was fighting so hard. I remember whispering in his ear, telling him to rest because he’s been fighting so hard. We all knew that he was going to go at any time.
#7: Saying Goodbye Forever
On the Saturday morning of 28 June 2014, about 48 hours after he was admitted to the hospital for the relapse, my beloved Gaek passed away.
I was devastated.
It felt unreal. A part of me felt like I’m glad he doesn’t have to suffer anymore, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to go. I kept telling myself about the 10 things I’m grateful for and how this is for the best, and From Him we come from, and to Him we shall return. And the one thing that I was truly grateful for, was that Allah has been so Gracious and so Kind to have given us this extra time with Gaek, when we thought we had none. He was so Kind to have lent us this man to be our lovely grandfather. And I cannot thank Him enough.
Saying goodbye forever was so hard. I found myself breaking down over and over because he’s gone… Forever. There’ll be no more “I love you too,” from him anymore, no more repeated questions, no more seeing him with his walking stick, no more seeing him slowly walking to the toilet. No more.
The bittersweet part, was that one the day he passed, it was the last day of Sya’ban and that evening, we ushered in the holy month of Ramadhan. And during Ramadhan, souls of those who have passed are comfortable and are free to roam and see their loved ones. It was comforting to know that during the month of Ramadhan, Gaek was somehow still there.
Nevertheless, no words can express how much I miss him. It’s like every day I look at my pictures with him. I think about him. And a part of me wishes he’ll be sitting on his end of the couch. Every time I eat something yummy, I’ll remember how he’ll enjoy it too. Every time I bake something, I’ll think about how he always said what I baked was nice when I asked him.
#8: First Ramadhan Without Gaek
My family and I had to start adapting to the change. It was tough, but life goes on. His room is my favourite place in the house. I regularly open his cupboard and see his clothes. Look at his favourite polo tshirts. And just smell his scent. I regularly do my prayers in his room, because that’s where I feel closest to him. I sit at his spot on the couch, because that happens to be my favourite spot.
I visited his grave two days after the funeral, and after I read Yaasin, I sprinkled some pretty flowers and poured water on it. I cried, because it really kinda sunk in that he’s gone and I really missed him, as I do now. After his passing, I felt kinda lonely in an odd way. Even though I have loads of cousins, and my parents and friends and the Lad, I just felt kinda lonely. I’ve always been really vocal at grandma’s house, especially when it came to engaging in a conversation with Gaek. But now the thought of not being able to do that with Gaek just made me feel lonely.
We tried spending a lot of time with Nenek during Ramadhan, because we didn’t want her to feel lonely and we wanted to accompany her. Honestly, I didn’t really look forward to Eid, because I just couldn’t bear to face the music that Gaek will not be with us. Hearing the takbir on the last day of Ramadhan, was hard.
#9: First Syawal Without Gaek
I held back my tears as I did my Maghrib prayers after breaking my fast. I could hear the takbir being played on the radio. I sat down on the prayer mat and told myself, “Gaek is really gone.” After Ramadhan, souls of those who have passed are believed to go back to their grave and they won’t come around and see us anymore. The comfort of knowing that Gaek was around during Ramadhan is now gone and that just broke me.
I just prayed to Allah to thank Him for everything- for the blessings, for time, for opportunities- everything. And I prayed that Allah put Gaek with the righteous and the pious and that He will lighten his load wherever he is. I miss Gaek so much, it gets overwhelming sometimes. I cried myself to sleep one time because I just miss Gaek too darn much. It’s not that I regret anything or I’m not accepting of what’s meant to be, I’m just being a human who is sad over a loss of a loved one.
Just when I got done, my cousin came into Gaek’s room where I was praying, and came to me telling me, “Kakak, Gaek’s really gone. He’s not here anymore.” I hugged her and we spent a good three minutes, together with her sister, crying and comforting each other. That was a moment I will never forget, because it showed how incredibly vulnerable we all still are. First of Syawal also meant that it was a month since Gaek’s passing.
The next day when we wanted to seek forgiveness from Nenek, I couldn’t help but cry because I keep looking over beside her, where Gaek usually sat. He wasn’t there. It’s just hard to adapt. It truly only has been a month and that’s not enough time for us to get used to the fact that Gaek is no longer here.
That’s essentially what has been happening with me in the last three months. It took me awhile to even bring myself to talk about this. It’s been a hard few months for my family and myself and honestly, I’m still very sad. I should start referring to Gaek as my late Gaek or my late grandpa. But I just am not ready to say that just yet.
I miss him every day.
So till the next time I update you guys, I just would like to wish all my Muslim readers a very Happy Eid. If I have posted anything that was mean or that has hurt your feelings, I sincerely apologise. Heh.