About a year and a half ago, before I started this blog, I shared a little story on Twitter. My husband’s maternal grandmother (G’ma V) sat with me on the couch one evening after dinner while I nursed then-tiny Roo. Not long after having her first son the couple next door had a baby, born prematurely. The mother was ill with pneumonia, and her milk never came in. The baby was given minimal chances of surviving.

So G’ma V volunteered to nurse him. She was just 18 years old at the time.

Over the course of that year, she nursed two other preemies until they were thriving.


Thursday we got a call that G’ma V was in the hospital. She’s 81, a diabetic with weak kidneys, and this year has seen quite a few hospital visits. Matt went to see her once the girls were in bed. They thought it was likely an intestinal blockage. She’d probably need surgery.

Yesterday was Matt’s birthday. We carried on with our plans — went out for dinner (SANS children! it was a simpler time) and picked out Vio’s first bicycle for her 4th birthday — and checked in with Matt’s family as much as possible. If she was in surgery a long time, that would be good news. It meant they were able to fix things. Every minute that ticked by, we breathed a bit easier.

I settled in to nurse down Roo, when an IM popped up on my screen. It was from Matt. (SIDE NOTE: How did husbands and wives communicate during bedtime pre-internet? Friggin’ smoke signals? The mind boggles.)

His mom had left us a message.

It was gangrene. In her intestines. Large and small.

There is nothing they could do.


The past 24 hours since getting that news have been some sort of jumbled mess of tears and confusion and hysterical planning. My mom came over to sit with the girls while we went off to the hospital. We were told she didn’t have much time, but we didn’t (and still don’t) know how long “not much” might be.

Two weeks ago she was meeting up with us to watch Vio at swimming lessons, and now she’s in a hospital bed waiting to be taken off a ventilator.

My maternal grandmother died when I was nine years old; I still remember the sound of the school secretary’s voice over the PA asking my teacher to send me to the office and for me to bring my things. I can’t help but feel like I’m back in that little girl’s footsteps, echoing down the hall, as I march to the inevitable news.

I love this woman so much, you guys, and I wish I was a brilliant writer just so I could tell you all how amazing she is. I’ve never met anyone in my life who had so many people who loved her.


It’s the little things that keep knocking me down. The way she’d always answer the phone, “Hi, this is Val!” in her sweet southern accent. The wall of hats in her bedroom that perfectly matched all of her outfits. Our standing gift of a brand new pair of slippers every Christmas. How will I Christmas shop without buying her a pair of slippers?

And the big ones. The regret over not ever sitting down with her to record her oral history of the family. My annoyance the last time I saw her that we were having to pose for photographs with two very distressed children who very much needed to be put to bed. That we stopped doing Thursday night dinners at her house too many months ago.


There was supposed to be a party on Monday night for all the August birthdays in the family. I’ve mentioned numerous times that Vio shares her birthday with Matt’s mother and cousin. Earlier this week, it occurred to me that G’ma V and Matt’s aunt and I should pose for a picture together — the three generations who all gave birth on the same day.

So it goes.


Matt has just left to go back to the hospital, and the girls are in bed. I’m doing laundry with a hectic ferocity just to feel useful, and staring at the phone, wondering if it will ring and the news will come.


Filed under Nothing but love

28 responses to “Waiting

  1. Oh, Diane. Praying for you guys, and Matt’s grandma, and your whole family during this time.

    (Thanks for sharing that story again. What an inspiration!)

  2. I’m so so sorry, Diane. I can’t imagine what you guys are going through, and I hope that the prayers your internet friends send up for you are a comfort. You are lucky (so lucky!) to have known, loved and been loved by such an amazing woman. Thinking of you, and praying for you and for the babies… talking to them about it will be another kind of adventure. I wish you didn’t have to be a part of it. XOXO

  3. I am so sorry to hear about Matt’s Grandmother. She sounds like a tremendous woman. If you or Matt need anything let us know.

  4. I’m so sorry, Diane.

    These times are so scary. As parents, it’s hard not to look ahead (when ___ happens, when ____ happens) and part of that, for me, has always been realizing that we’ll suffer losses in our lives. That we’ll have to guide our children through them.

    I wish so much that Vio and Roo had more time with their great-grandmother because from everything you’ve said she sounds like a rare spirit.

    Wishing for peace for all of you. Give yourself space to grieve in between all the loving and caring you have for everyone else.

  5. I’m so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  6. I am so, so sorry. She sounds like such an amazing lady. She, you and the whole family are in my prayers.

  7. I’m so sorry, Diane. Sending much love to you all. xoxo

  8. So sorry to read this. Hang in there. Thinking of you and your family here in New York.


  9. Oh, Diane. Oh, Diane. I’m so sorry. You and your whole family are in my prayers.

  10. Oh Diane I am so sorry. She sounds like such an amazing lady. Praying for your family.

  11. Prickle of tears here for you and your family. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  12. shriekhouse

    Oh Diane, I’m so so sorry. I lost both my grandparents this year and I know. I know. Wishing you and your family comfort and peace. xo

  13. Oh Diane, my thoughts are with you and your family.

    Will be thinking about you, often.


  14. so so sorry for you and your family.

  15. Lu

    What an amazing woman she sounds like.
    My heart aches for your and Matt’s family. It’s tough and a whole list of not fun stuff…and I am so sorry you are walking through it now.
    I know what you are feeling and I wish I could be there to hug you and help out.
    You know I (we) are here.
    I am sorry you returned this way too and I will be thinking of you all. I am always here. xo

  16. Oh no. I am so so sorry to hear this news. My heart is with you and your family. Sending you many wishes of peace and love.

  17. So, so sorry. You are in my prayers.

  18. Chibi Jeebs

    I’m so, so very sorry. Sending tons of love – you’re all in my thoughts.

  19. I am so sorry Diane. Just so so sorry. I know how hard this is. I’m sending so much love your way. My grandpa died a year ago today.

  20. Heather

    I don’t know you but I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my very sweet grandmother unexpectedly the same day my son was born. I saw your tweet come across and wanted to give you a big hug and tell you that your family was in my heart and in my thoughts. Much love. – Heather

  21. barbetti

    This brought me to tears. So many prayers are being said for you all right now. I’m very, very sorry.

  22. Diane, I’m so so sorry for you and your family’s loss. She sounds like an amazing woman.

  23. I loved my husband’s grandmother with the same ferocity. Sam is named for her.

    I am so happy you had her in your life, yet so sad she is gone.

    Oh Diane. I am so sorry for your loss. So much love.

  24. Oh honey. I’m so sorry.

  25. Oh Diane – you are a brilliant writer and I can tell just how much you love her and how much everyone loves her. I am so sorry for you and your family honey. But I am also happy that you have known someone so wonderful who deserves to be celebrated.

    So much love to you my friend. And hugs too.

  26. Oh, honey. I don’t know how I missed this. I am so sorry for your loss. Love, love love to you. She sounds amazing.

  27. You are wonderful, and I’m sorry you have to go through this darkness.

    If it’s any consolation, I think you’re one of the best damn writers in the whole of the internet. For real.

    I’ll be thinking about you. Lots and lots and lots.

    I love you, lady.

  28. Just found you via Arwen — my grandmother died in a very similar fashion a month ago and I even blogged about it with the same title. I’m sorry for your loss. Your daughters are lucky for the time they were able to spend with their great-grandma.