How you can count blessing in any situation, even at your final moment
“I will never forget, love.” She said. Her voice was barely audible. Soft. Weak. Raspy and crackly. And they all stayed silent for a moment. Her grandma closed her eyes. Her hand got colder and colder. She was still breathing softly. But barely alive. The girl looked at her mother and father and they all cried, as her last long breathe left her mouth. Her eyes were closed. Wrinkles covered her face. An old but pleased face. Her hand let go of mine. I placed it gently back on her chest. The last few minutes had passed by swiftly and slowly. It felt like one big long exhaling breath: smooth, relieving, comforting, and relaxing. But what just had happened to her was priceless. No moment in her life could beat this. It had been both wonderful and cruel. Both extraordinarily painful and heartbreakingly beautiful. Two souls had just collided for the last time. Connected in every way.
A four-walled bedroom
She opened the door and saw her grandma laying there on the bed. Her wrinkly brown and greyish face was smiling at her. She lifted her hand ever so slightly with her finger pointing towards the girl. “Come…” her grandma took a big breath “come here child,” she said with her hand falling back onto her bed. She was weak. Very weak. Her father sat on the chair next to her bed watching over her. He smiled at her with a tear rolling down his left cheek. There was sadness in his heart and she felt its heaviness. Her mother was sitting on the second chair on the other side of the room. Grandma never needed more chairs, she had loads in the common area that she could get if she ever needed one. My mom grabbed my hand gently as I walked up to grandma. I turned my head and looked at her. She closed her eyes, her head slightly tilting downwards. She touched her own heart with her other hand and grasped her t-shirt with her hand as if she was trying to take away the pain from her heart. I moved her hand up to my face, it was shaking and cold to the touch. She had not slept much for the past couple of days. Neither had my dad. She kissed her mother’s hand and laid it back on the chair.
The four-walled bedroom felt like a tiny box. Holding in death and life, seeing which of the two would strive when the door was opened again. Death lingered over her grandma as life was protecting her with all her might. I sat down in the chair next to grandma and grabbed her hands blackened by the cigarettes she had smoked throughout her life. Her hand was even colder than her mother’s. There was little life left in her, I knew that. For a small moment, just when I grabbed her hands, her eyes opened. Ever so slightly peering out into the world, maybe for the last time. She tried to turn her head towards me. I saw her struggle, but she just couldn’t anymore. So I stood up, moving my face in front of her eyes. They looked at me and even though she had not much strength left she smiled. A fire started burning in her eyes. It was love she just saw in her grandma’s eyes. “Sit down child.” Her grandma said, her voice was raspy and so soft that even the birds singing outside her bedroom window overruled her voice. But I heard her just enough to know that I should sit down. I still held on to her hand, softly so I would not hurt her fragile bones, but enough to hold on.
I don’t know what to say. I just look at her, watching her face change. Her eyeballs move within her eyelids. That is the only motion happening. She seems to be living some other life. Life in her dreams or her thoughts. I close my eyes as well and soon I remember my life. I look back at days, years spent with my grandma. And then I know what to see. Remembering the love and fire in her grandma’s eyes when she looked at her.
Do you remember?
“Grandma?” She asks seeing if her grandma is still listening. Her grandma opens her eyes a tiny bit. She is I think to myself. “Do you remember drawing together?” I ask her, and a massive smile appears on my face. It was the thought I just had when I closed my eyes. “Do you remember that we sat down at the diner table? We both had a coloring page, a bag full of colored markers and pencils. You would get us something to drink and a cup of tea or a cup of coffee for yourself and we would draw for hours. Painting every Disney character there ever was. From Aladin to Snow White we drew them all.” Her grandma’s hand seemed to get a bit warmer. She didn’t know if she was imagining this or if it was real. But I continued with the story. “You would often grab us a cookie or a piece of chocolate and if we were really lucky it would be a piece of candy. With yet another glass of soda. One after the other colored markers would be passed along the table, as we all needed the same colors some times. You learned me to draw along the outlines of the character with a thin line. So I would mess up and go color out of the lines. We then turned the marker around and used the other, larger, tip to fill in space. It was so calming.”
“I know” her grandma started to speak to all of their surprises, it was louder than before and with more power in her voice. She seemed to be more lively than before. Grandma had been a heavy smoker and this was hearable in her crackly and raw voice. It felt like the air coming out of her mouth was pressed past a rough asphalt wall inside her through making it vibrate more than it used to. “I know that I loved” she took a deep breath. “That you drew outside the lines at first. I loved that so much because you just” another big breath interrupted her sentence. “You just seemed to create your own… art.” She had to think of the word for a second. “I loved it so much.” She said and her eyes closed again. Was this it then?
“Oh, oh, and grandma.” I continued excitedly. “Do you still remember” I was gonna share another memory with her? Seeing that it gave her so much joy at the end of her life. “Do you still remember the long car rides around the country? Or at least they felt long to me.” She laughed at looked at her mom and dad, who smiled as well. “I remember that you would sit on the front seat and I was just waiting for that one moment. The black leather bag you already had for ages was right in between your legs and about halfway through the trip those magic words would be spoken.” ‘Kids, would you love candy?’ I tried to imitate my grandma’s voice as best as I could. “Yesss!” I shouted, startling both my parents and my grandma. I felt a soft pulse going through her hand as I said it. “And so you would open your bag, and go through the large open pocket in the middle. Things clinked and rustled and out came a little bag of candy. You would hold it open for us handing all of us one piece of candy. You would always take the green one. You called them greenies. The kind of sweets you only took when you had a sore throat but you just didn’t care. You ate them all year round. Maybe it was because of your smoked up throat that you liked them so much.” And I laughed.
“I love those!” A happy voice said it was my dad. “Me too.” My grandma replied as she released a sigh. “I loved…. Giving them to you….. they made…. You happy……” my grandma would continue to take quick and shallow breaths of air as she spoke. “I wanted to…. Share them…. Because I loved…. To see the smiles….. on your faces… when I grabbed…. The bag of sweets…..” She looked tired. Almost giving up. Her hand started to get colder again. Those last words she spoke had much impact on her.
One last memory
“But child….” Her grandma started as she took a deep breath so she could finish the entire sentence. “Do you remember when you were little?” Yet again a deep breath, she was exhausted. “And still in your stroller and we together” she smiled and continued “with your other grandma and grandpa would go to” she stayed silent for a long moment. I took a deep breath and looked at my mom and dad. I felt her hand get cold. Colder than before. Life seemed to slowly drip away from her and death was winning its battle. But she was still smiling. If this was the end it would be alright. But she took one more breath in. “We would visit the zoo.” And I remembered what she wanted to share. So I took over. I didn’t want her to get any more exhausted.
RISE WITH THE SUN
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“Oh yes, I remember,” I said with laughter in my voice. “The monkeys would run around freely and crawl all over me. I was terrified of the beasts.” My mom and dad laughed. My dad was sitting on a small table against the wall. He was getting tired of standing. For some strange reason I felt comforted by their laughter. I felt happy weirdly enough. “And you grandma, you laughed all day long. You loved animals. You fed them and tried to get me to pet them. But I didn’t dare to.” The hand of her grandma got weaker and colder. I stopped with my story. I wanted to share one more thing with her. Just one last memory.
“Grandma, grandma. I slightly squeezed her hand hoping she would notice. And she did. A little reaction on her face was noticeable, it looked like a little nod even though she couldn’t move her face. “I wanted to tell you one more story. Do you remember the moment right before you died? Right here. Right now. I held her hand close to her heart, feeling its coldness on my chest. I want you to take that memory, our last memory with you to where ever you may go now. Will you never forget? I asked, knowing that she wouldn’t have enough strength to answer anymore. “Will you not forget me holding your hand, sharing our lives. Counting our blessings. Will you never forget?” I said one final time and started crying. I felt her hand loosening in my hand. ”You’ve had an amazing life. A truly amazing life. You lifted me, you taught me things, you played puzzles and games with me. You were always happy. You lived life. And all you did was that. All I ever saw you doing was be joyful and happy even when things didn’t go as planned. You were just amazing.” I continued. Tears were now sobbing down my face. Dripping from my chin and I looked at my mom and dad. Hoping for comfort and I did. They too had their eyes closed and tears gently rolled down their faces.
“Oh and grandma, one last thing. I will count my blessings. Always. Just as you did. Each day again. Counting every single star in the sky. Every plant along the street. Every smile on people’s faces. Every droplet of water falling from the sky. Every brink of sunlight on my skin. I will cherish it all. Each day again. Just like you did. I love you.” And if she had magically got some last bit of energy she softly spoke to me. I could barely hear and knew for certain that my parents wouldn’t hear it. “I will never forget, love.” Her grandma said and her eyes stopped moving. Her voice was barely audible. Soft. Weak. Raspy and crackly. And they all stayed silent for a moment. Her grandma closed her eyes. Her hand got colder and colder. She was still breathing softly. But barely alive. The girl looked at her mother and father and they all cried, as her last long breathe left her mouth. Her eyes were closed. Wrinkles covered her face. An old but pleased face. Her hand let go of mine. I placed it gently back on her chest. The last few minutes had passed by swiftly and slowly. It felt like one big long exhaling breath: smooth, relieving, comforting, and relaxing. Her hand was now completely cold as if frozen. I remembered every moment I had lived through with my grandma and so as her last words were to her grandma, she would always keep counting her blessings.
I opened the door outside of the bedroom and it was neither death nor life that left the room but love. It was a deep love that settled in within all of us. Remembering the beauty of life. All the memories she had given us and the world. All the beauty. They had sunk deep into my heart. Living with the other memories om passed loved once. I looked outside and saw a rose blooming from the ground. It was spring. And I felt grateful. I counted my blessings. I smiled and cried with joy. It was a strange but beautiful moment. But I counted my blessings. Each day. Every day.
Count your blessings
I ended up finishing this story with tears in my eyes. It’s an experience dear to my heart. A lesson I have learned from the people that have passed away from me over the last years. It is engraved deep into my soul.
But dear readers know this. Take this one thing away out of all that I do. Every story I write. Every post I upload. Every word I speak. Count your blessings. Count every star in the sky. Every memory and each meal you have. Cherish them close to your heart. Let them warm your heart and let them fill you with joy. Every one of our lives is filled with moments of beauty. Cherish them relentlessly. These moments are what will make you joyful in life. And if you can see them they will multiply.
I wanted to give you one simple line. One simple thing to do each day. “Count your blessings” that’s it. Grab a notebook, a phone, or whatever is close to you. If that be a napkin grab that and just write on it. Write down your blessings. Count them day in, day out. As a reminder that
Today You Lived!