A hint of morbidity comes with the job of a reporter.
We’re constantly put to the task of writing or reading obituaries, having to record the highest and the lowest moments of someone’s life after they’re gone.
And this point hit too close to home this week when a phone call shook me from my normal routine and made me reevaluate how much I show my appreciation for those in my life.
Checking my phone Tuesday morning, I saw missed calls from my sister and my mother, with a follow-up text from both, which is highly unusual as I come from a family for which a phone call only causes anxiety.
I slipped out of the newsroom to hear my mom tell me my grandma had been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, something to do with her abdomen.
And that my sisters, one a nurse and the other studying biology, don’t “have a good feeling about it.”
Cue the feeling of an anvil falling in the pit of my stomach.
My grandmother has been in failing health for a large part of my adult life. Our family has gone through multiple instances when we questioned whether she would pull through, and every time she’s fought like a warrior and done just that.
But every time is harder, knowing that the more consistently it happens, the harder it’s going to be for her to “pull through.”
I called my grandpa to tell him I was thinking about him and to stay strong, that she’d be fine.
Whether that would be true remained to be seen.
Seeming to go back to work, my mind was anywhere but there. Instead it went back to her.
My grandma.
The woman who taught me how to knit, even though she was quickly losing her sight, and made the shawl that sleeps beside me every night.
The woman who gave me one of the most interesting family histories, spanning from her birth in Africa to her meeting my grandfather in France to the family she bore in America.
The woman who spoke just mere weeks ago during a family visit about her love of all of the fresh seafood in France as a girl and her wish to try sushi one day.
She just had to be all right.
And with great fortune, about three hours later, I received the call that the surgery had gone well, but she’d have to have a follow-up surgery later in the week and stay for the next two weeks to be watched over.
While feeling relieved, I also felt an urgency. I’ve always had relative plans to document my grandma’s life for future generations of the family, but it’s always been put off for more immediate plans.
My father asked me to do it in high school, but I was too timid to sit down and talk with her. In college, I was too busy with extracurricular activities and too far away to make the trek back home to record it.
But now, there’s nothing holding me back and plenty of incentive to push me toward really getting to know my grandmother, finally. It only took 24 years.
It shouldn’t have taken a scare like this to remind me how precious each moment is, but it does serve as a reminder to not take for granted the time that we do have together.