For the From Left to Write Book Club we read "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" by Jan-Philipp Sendker. The book inspired this post.
"There was the world of the sick and dying and the world of the hale. The healthy and hale did not want to know anything about the sick and the dying. As if they had nothing to do with one another. As if one false step on thin ice, one forgotten candle, were not enough to pluck you from the one world and land you in the other."
-Excerpt from "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats' by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Eleven years ago my grandmother died of cancer. It was rather aggressive and fast. She was in her early 70's and we all felt robbed and heartbroken to witness what we knew were her final days. I'm the oldest of sixteen cousins, so always felt lucky that I had the most time with her and would most likely have the best memories, but it still felt terrible to lose her.
As the cancer was taking over and it was clear her days were numbered, my grandfather had a massive stroke. The kind of stroke you aren't supposed to survive. They were in bed sleeping and my grandmother was in too much pain, too weak to quickly get to the phone. It must have been an incredible struggle for her to call for help. That was the last day that Grandma was really lucid and she was admitted to the hospital for hospice care immediately.
|Grandma & Grandpa on their wedding day.|
She died soon after and my Grandpa was transported to the funeral via ambulance a few days later, able to sit up in a wheelchair. It was heartbreaking. It was tragic. People wandered around the funeral, looking at us with pity. My grandparents were healthy. They were high school sweethearts. It was not their time.
Luckily they created a family that survives through humor, so we found a way to laugh about it. The absurdity of it all. We created humor where most would have found none and ways to make sense of it instead of just crying our eyes out. It was decided that Grandpa never could have survived life without Grandma if he was capable and healthy. They had to cross from the healthy world together.
Today my Grandpa is still alive, trapped in a body terribly damaged by his stroke and in need of round-the-clock nursing care. He married a lovely woman he met in the nursing home, who is a considerate and watchful companion and lost her husband around the same time Grandma died. He found another person to love for the rest of the time he's with us, but he has a plot waiting for him right next to Grandma.
When Julia travels to Burma to search for her missing lawyer father, she discovers much more than she expected. Join From Left to Write on February 1 as we discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.