Rest in Peace Grandma …



She sighs.
Her eyelids grow heavy.
They drop, then suddenly they flutter open again.
She’s awake, but not seeing.
Those watery, faded eyes are like windows,
offering a view of the vast emptiness inside her head.

I watch her.
Her head nods to the side.
Her eyelids close again.
She’s asleep.

Her hand starts to shake.
Is she awake again?
No, her eyes are still closed.
Her foot joins her hand in an awkward dance.

She moans. She sighs.
Her limbs keep spasming.
She suffers. Even in her sleep.
Oh … how she suffers!

Her breathing halts.
Her hand and foot stop moving.
We watch her.
Is this it?
The time we’ve all been waiting for?

Suddenly, as if she got poked with a needle,
she starts breathing again.
Her limbs spasm again.
She moans again.
She’s alive again.
But how alive is she really?

Tears well up in my eyes.
How can we let her suffer like that?
Now I understand those nurses who kill elderly patients.
It looks so easy.
If I just picked up that throw pillow and held it over her mouth,
she’d slide away.
Her hands would rest
her feet would rest
she would find peace – at last.

I divert my eyes.
Away from the pillow.
Away from her.
Even a dog we would not let suffer like this.
We’d be humane enough put him out of his misery right away.

But not Grandma.
Because she is human.
Because she is worth more than a dog,
Which gives her the sad privilege to suffer more.

Suddenly her eyes flutter open,
reflecting a hint of livelihood.
Her hand and foot relax.
She looks at the TV screen and smiles.

I’m not sure if she knows who we are,
But she seems happy to have us there.
She comments on the price of the house that is for sale on the TV show.
“Yeah, sure!” she says, “$625,000, that’s a bargain!”
She smiles mischievously,
proud to have made a statement that makes us laugh.
We build onto her comments.
She smiles.

And then, just as sudden, the light dims behind her eyes.
She retreats to that dark place.
The one that makes that hand and foot twitch.
The one that makes her moan.
The one that makes her suffer.

Oh Grandma,
Just let go of it all.
Let the arms of blissful wellbeing carry you away.
You’ll be so much better there.
Go now.
You deserve better than this.



Hélène Toye is the author of ‘Go West, A Belgian Attempts American Motherhood’, available on :