My grandfather passed away. He was simply one of the single best people I've ever known, and watching as his ravaged body began to breathe more and more slowly and finally just stopped has left me with a hole in my heart that only he can really fill. The good part is that my entire family--all of his children, their spouses, my grandmother, and me--was there with him to the end, cheering him on.
The infection had just spread too much--there was simply nothing more to do. We all felt it was best to just remove the medications except for pain control. He was more peaceful throughout the entire day than he has been in the past few, and looked comfortable even as he passed. Yet still, when it came down to it, my grandmother--the strongest woman I have ever seen, who spoke to him throughout the day to tell him it would all be fine, whose voice didn't even crack until the very end--broke down and wept. She broke my heart more than anything else. She is bereft--her best friend and husband of almost sixty years, gone after this incredibly exhausting struggle.
The most painful thing was knowing that just a week ago, when the infection came back after a few weeks of relief, he looked at my mom and told her, "I was almost there." He was so close to being able to just go home. That was everyone's greatest regret. He hadn't been home in several months, between different hospitals and rehab facilities, and it was his single greatest wish. All he wanted was to be able to go home, and he never got to.
And yet. Yesterday, when it was finally over, I texted D to let him know. My phone has a technology that allows it to predict words based on what numbers you punch in--and the message I typed was, "He's gone." The numbers that spell the word "gone" are 4663. Incidentally, the first word that the phone recognized--spelled with the same numbers in the same order--was "home." He's home. He's finally home, free of all this pain and disease and fear and frustration, and I truly believe (as he did, so simply and passionately) that he is in a much, much better place, and that he is truly happy.
That's what gets me through, but it still hurts like hell.