Thank you all for your prayers for my grandma and my dad's family the past couple of days.
Yesterday morning, after all of us had an opportunity to talk to Gibby and say our goodbyes, her doctor explained to her what was going to happen and why. He explained that her cancer had spread rapidly and was wrapped around the blood vessels in her lungs, crippling her right lung and making her heart (already weak and with a pacemaker) have to work twice as hard to get blood moving. He said that they would take the breathing tube out and that she would begin to die then. She was so weak that they didn't think that she'd last the 4 hours that she did the day before when they tried to take the tube out. She was alert and understood everything that was going on, and shook her head vigorously when we asked her if she was afraid.
She'd been holding the rosary that I brought back from Assisi for her, and when the doctor told her the news she started rubbing the beads. She was comforted by the Rosary and prayed it daily, so my dad and aunt asked that I stay in there while she was dying (as family came and went) and just pray the Rosary out loud for her to hear. I told her that I was going to stand behind her and pray after they pulled the tubes, and she squeezed my hand and nodded her head to let me know that she wanted it. I told her that I would do my best, but that it was going to be hard for me, so if I got quiet for a minute I just needed to compose myself and that I would be praying silently.
Fortunately my sisters were there by my side the whole time. Hearing her granddaughters praying the Rosary together for her gave Gibby tremendous peace, and comforted the whole family - Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
They removed the tubes and sat her up so she could see all of us (she was conscious the whole time) as she passed away. She was in no pain, but was still able to see everyone and squeeze our hands. Modern medicine is so amazing.
We were able to make it through 2 Rosaries, a Divine Mercy chaplet, a couple of litanies, and prayed the prayer for a happy death as she stopped breathing.
I couldn't imagine a happier death. She died at peace with God and with her family surrounding her (my dad is one of 9 kids).
Gibby was a strong woman - strong in faith and in character - and she passed it on to her family. I still cannot believe that just a few days ago we were all sitting around her dining room table making our annual family Christmas craft and she was reminding all of us not to cut the wire with her good scissors.
We all went over to her house after we left the hospital, exhausted in body and spirit. I was sitting on the step next to the fireplace - my favorite spot in her house - and Clare came and sat down next to me. I wish that Gibby was here to see that Clare loves sitting there with me just as much as I loved sitting by the fire with her while I was growing up. Clare has some little curls at the ends of her hair, just like I used to. I'm going to have to find someone that will play with her hair and put it in ringlets like Gibby used to do with me. Maybe Aunt Margo...
Anyway, sorry for the rambling and random memories, but I wanted to give you an update and thank you for your prayers.
I'll post sometime soon about our family and include new pictures of Clare. She sure is getting big, and was such a bright spot in this time of sadness for all of us.