Content warning: this post contains my very fucked up thoughts about my grandma’s eventual demise
My former cult leader and grandmother is still alive. I write about her in the past tense, because she isn’t part of my present. I had what I decided would be our last conversation seven years ago. I didn’t think she would live this long after. She has late stage Alzheimer’s, has had two bouts of treatable skin cancer, and has been on a feeding tube for five years at this point.
She’s gone from living alone, to living with family, to a minimally restrictive nursing home, to a high care facility. She’s gone to the emergency room and we’ve been told it might be any day now so many times I’ve lost track. Something in her wants to live. Some part of her is fighting with all the intensity that defines her not to go yet. And it astonishes me each time.
I was probably only nine or ten years old the first time I can remember my grandma telling me to let her die. She wasn’t in any present danger at the moment; I think we were sitting in her living room in powder blue armchairs watching television. “If they ever take me to a hospital, make them stop. If it’s my time, it’s my time. Let me go! I wanna see God and my daddy!” Over the years she expounded on this, I learned “pull the plug” was her wish. To my adult relations’ aggravation, she refused to commit these desires to a living will.
I don’t know if her wishes changed or if her earlier talk was all bluster.
It is strange, waiting for someone to die. It’s not that I want her death; I just want closure. Years ago when I learned the truth about her as a cult leader, when I read stories of people she killed and confronted her, when she was angry I expected her to feel sorry, I thought she would die within the year. I planned to go to her funeral, to look at her face one last time, and mourn her. And only after that step do I really think I can be free.
She was my god. I became an atheist when I lost my faith in her. I want to know if my evil god is mortal or not.
But she’s still here. And I feel morbid and gross for feeling the weight of these extra years. Because despite it all, I love her. And I know her death will wreck me when it comes, that I might regret not visiting her during these long years. I suspect it will take me weeks to recover. But I also know it can’t be avoided, so I wanna get it over with. Feel the pain, cry the tears, suffer through the existential crisis.
Then I’m free.
These thoughts feel distasteful.