Life is Too Short for Regrets or Why I Took a Last Minute Trip to Israel Without Telling Anyone

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September 19, 2014 by Katia

Life is too short for regrets.

I’ve had a week of revelations. As I was trying to cover as much ground as I could (both emotional and physical) walking the familiar streets of my hometown on a warm September week breathing in comfort, it was raining revelations.

On Wednesday last week my grandma was in a critical condition and not seeing her — not substantially seeing her for as long as I have — has made me numb on the inside. At midnight on Wednesday I was booking a ticket to fly out on the next day. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to have a conversation with her again. I didn’t know what her reaction to me would be even if the theoretical option of having a conversation was there. I didn’t know if she was going to make it. I didn’t know if I was going to make it on time. I didn’t know what “making it on time” even meant. What WAS I expecting? Which outcome was better for her?

You see, on Wednesday, while she was going through hell she was able to report to my mom through her shortness of breath in a forced effort to speak, between one debilitating spasm and the next, that she had received a message. What message? A good one. From her father. So should I be praying to God to stand in the way of that? I prayed for everything to work itself out in the best possible way instead.

On Friday I landed into the warmth of familiarity and weather. My grandma made it. She was much better. Shortly after arriving in the country my mom and I walked into the hospital corridor. Hospital corridors look the same everywhere. The same colour scheme, the same art decorating the walls, same architecture yet there was nothing familiar about how this felt. My legs were leading me to her room despite myself. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what. I didn’t know.

How is your grandma, my husband asked on the phone from Toronto and once again I didn’t know. She was sleeping when we arrived. So deeply we couldn’t wake her up. My mom said we should try and I was surprised at how scared I was of doing it. Am I scared of interrupting her sleep or am I scared of what will ensue? She was sleeping, I tell him. She was always old, for as long as I can remember her, but now she looked as though there was more age on top of that age. Her hand was firmly clinging to the metallic railing on the side of her bed. For the first of many times throughout this six day visit I was swallowing through a lump in my throat.

On the next day we were at the hospital again. The same stomach ache as I walk into the building and up the elevator to her floor. And then we’re in her room and she sees me and her eyes are suddenly wide open and she says something which I know isn’t WOW but I can’t remember and anyways WOW is what it felt like most and her face lights up and it feels like she’s almost sitting up although I know it’s impossible that she was and making this decision to fly in and being there in that room at that moment is one of the best things ever. We spend some time exchanging words of love and surprise and wonder and my mom tells me she thinks the pillow is too low for grandma. Babooshka always liked to sleep almost sitting up, true to her alert nature and self imposed restrictions whereby the act of sleeping was viewed as a weakness. These days grandma spends most of her time sleeping and wanders in and out of sleep organically. Wakefulness and sleep seem to have merged and she does both with a smile that only leaves her face when she gets worse. I prop up the pillows, stack them up a little bit and gently move my babooshka’s head so she’s more comfortable. “How is it? Better?” I ask.

“It’s wonderful”, she tells me. A huge smile lights up her face once again as her eyes are fixated on mine “absolutely wonderful!”.

babooshka2

***

* I wrote this without editing after flying in last night and spending 24 hours awake. Consider this my apology.

* During this visit I felt terrible for not letting anyone know, but the visit was entirely dedicated to my grandma and her sister, who are both very ill.

* This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post on the topic: Life is too short for. Please visit our hosts, some of my favourite people to read on the internet:

Kristi at Finding Ninee

Stephanie at Mommy for Real 

And co-hosting today the lovely Kelly at Just Typikel

67 thoughts on “Life is Too Short for Regrets or Why I Took a Last Minute Trip to Israel Without Telling Anyone

  1. Zoe says:

    That is a beautiful post Katia. So happy you got to see her. Xx

  2. Natalie DeYoung says:

    This is breathtakingly touching. I am so glad you got to go see her again.

  3. Oh, your sweet babooshka. I cried reading this and loved it so much. xo

  4. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Apology? Please. That was more like a gift. I am typing with my eyes full of tears. I know exactly what you mean, and of course you made the right choice to go. Life is too short for those type of deep regrets. I’m so glad she is better, and I’m so glad you got to be with her again. xoxo

  5. Kerri says:

    Apology? This is probably one of your most brilliant posts. I’m sorry for what you are going through right now. But I am in awe of your ability. To leave everything for a person who matters most, who needs you THEN. That you had the support to go and the knowledge that you had to. no apology ever.

  6. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says:

    Absolutely no apology needed! What a touching story. I am so glad you got to go see them both. That is, indeed, the essence – life is far too short for regrets.

  7. No need to apologize when spending such precious time with your grandma! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. Mi-sheberakh avoteinu v’imoteinu, Avraham v’Sarah, Yitzhak v’Rivkah, Ya’akov, Rachel v’Leah hu y’varekh et Babooshka!

    • Katia says:

      Oh, Anna, that made me choke up all over again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much these words (familiar words) mean to me. Toda!

  8. amorefado says:

    I absolutely appreciate your writing, edited or not. I’m glad you got to see her, touch her, hear her. Good for you.

  9. lrconsiderer says:

    You are the most wonderfullest, Katia. I’m glad you went and saw her🙂

  10. Mara says:

    Such a blessing that you could be there.

  11. Dana says:

    What a gift it must have been for your grandma – having you home. Thank you for sharing this with us. Xoxo

  12. manalgb says:

    I’m so glad you got to see her! It’s sad that she’s so far away. You will always be happy that you made the trip🙂 Prayers!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for the kind prayers, my dear! It is sad she is so far away, yet wonderful that when the necessity arises the distance, all of a sudden, becomes very manageable.🙂

  13. THESE are the decisions you make that last a lifetime…. that fill a piece of you that HAD to be filled…that propel you forward with fierce passion and fear… and these are the chances you don’t miss- in life.

    I’m SO glad you went. I’m betting that you will always- for the rest of your life be filled with peace over such a powerful and purposeful decision to go. It’s really amazing when life streamlines to that tunnel vision of what is REALLY important in our lives. Everything else is filtered through and peeled away… stripped down to the bare necessity of love. THOSE are the moments that matter.

    Beautiful, authentic, heart-full post Katia!!!

    • Katia says:

      And your message, Chris, was almost therapeutic for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for thinking this and putting this so beautifully and movingly into words. And that opening sentence the decision that are made to fill a piece of you that had to be filled – perfectly perfectly phrased. This just resonated with me so deeply. So once again thank you. From the bottom of my heart!

  14. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    OMG Katia. I love you. Please please take that apology back because this was incredible and so very touching. I was right there with you, the entire time and felt so many emotions along the way. You, flying out there, with so much worry in your heart. You, walking into the hospital that looks like ALL hospitals, you, waiting for her to see you, and her SEEING you, with a sparkle. I’m so so so very glad that you went to visit and I feel like I need to apologize to you – when you said you were going, I’d asked if you wanted me to move this sentence to the next one but then well, I should have, and I am very sorry for that. Also, I’m not, because I feel very honored and blessed to have read this post tonight. I know what it must have cost you emotionally to write, with your jetlag, and seeing the boys again….
    I’m so grateful to know you. I think you are so very precious and I know that your grandmother will remember this trip of yours forever, as will you. It will be a story you tell your boys, and one that they tell their children.
    xxoo

    • Katia says:

      Your comment made my day yesterday. It’s so beautiful and uplifting that I actually feel like I will have to read it again. And possibly again🙂 No need for an apology, I don’t even understand why you’re apologizing. I actually wanted to thank you for that private message where you told me the linkup would still be open. I was doubtful that I’d be able to come up with something having arrived on Thursday evening but I so wanted to write about this and thought the sentence innocently offered by myself months before was such a good fir that your message turned out to be the jolt that I needed. I love you, you’re a dear dear friend. xoxo

  15. I’m so glad you went. You will never regret it.
    *sniff*

  16. מילים כל כך נפלאים!
    So so happy to read that you went, that you have no regret, and that your wonderful savta, your babooshka is feeling better. Your post is beautiful. B’ahava lach ve’lah Katia xx

    • Katia says:

      את נהדרת!

      I’ve been meaning to email you for the longest time and didn’t and as I posted this I thought “at least now Nicki knows why”. I will still email you and thank you so much for your wonderful words!❤

  17. That feeling when you’re standing just outside their door? You know you have to go in, you want to go in and at the same time you don’t want to. Oh I know that SO well. Then they are asleep. Better not wake them. What will their reaction be if you do? Yup been there too. My heart goes out to you. You must be exhausted but you’ll NEVER regret going. NEVER. And just think of the joy you gave your grandmother. Magical.

    • Katia says:

      Your comment just tugged at my heart and I think I know what you’re referring to. I’m not even that exhausted, I think that this refueled me and by this I mean both being in my hometown and seeing those women. I know I’ll never regret this and thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this wonderful comment.

  18. Jen says:

    You did the right thing. Good for you knowing when that need is not negotiable. xoxoxo

  19. Wow. Amazing story. I remember driving a few hours to visit my grandmother at the hospital days before she passed away. She told me, and I will never forget this, “Remember when I was clinically dead 6 months ago and they revived me? Well I never told anyone this, but during that time, I saw a white mansion surrounded by a beautiful garden with a trickling brook. The peace was overwhelming. It was the most peaceful I ever felt in my whole life. I want to go back to that mansion. Tell everyone to let me go. They must let me go.” I will never regret sharing those last words with my grandmother. Not one bit.

    • Katia says:

      What an amazing story, Michelle! I live for stories like that and they bring me so much comfort. I am so happy you got to hear this from your grandma.

  20. happy for ya🙂

    good things happen to good people!
    xoxo

  21. Life is too short, especially for regrets. I’m so glad you did what you did. None of us ever knows when our time will come so it’s so important to leave nothing unspoken. I totally understand your prayer for everything to work out in the best way possible, even if that means not having our loved one with us. That picture of your hands is beautiful. Much love to you!

    • Katia says:

      “Leaving nothing unspoken” is perfectly put. When I was living in Israel I’ve met prime minister Rabin at a Rosh ha Shana (the Jewish new year) cocktail. I was a soldier and he came to greet the soldiers and employees of the ministry where I was stationed. I was too embarrassed to walk up to him and tell him how much I respected him for his efforts to bring peace to the region and three months later he was assassinated. I know that hearing it from me would not have made a huge difference to this great man but I felt exactly that – regret for words unspoken. Thank you, friend, xoxo

  22. thelatchkeymom says:

    Oh my goodness, this one choked me up. I’m so happy you got to see you grandmother and I hope that she’ll be oaky. You are my hero – I could not have pulled it together and written this.

  23. Judah First says:

    You are right life’s too short, and you will NEVER regret your trip. So glad you got to go. God bless you and your family.

  24. Liz says:

    Lovely. My best to your grandmother. She sounds like a treasure. A smiling face doesn’t usually go with someone who sleeps sitting up to not show weakness. Such a seeming contradiction.

  25. Roshni says:

    I think this is absolutely wonderful and freeing that you did this!! I don’t know what I quite mean by freeing, but I think it would have been a terrible weight on your mind if you hadn’t ‘made it on time’!! I love that her face lit up the way it did when she saw you – I can quite imagine the emotion of seeing that!!❤

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, dear friend, and what an insightful comment. It was indeed a freeing experience, and I too when reading your comment felt it and didn’t know at first exactly why that word struck such a chord with me but it’s exactly as you’ve put it. It would have been a terrible weight had I not done it and missed out on her.🙂❤❤❤

  26. “So should I be praying to God to stand in the way of that? I prayed for everything to work itself out in the best possible way instead.”

    Selfless. You are extraordinary Katia. This piece, these words – an example of pure love. You let your body guide you. It knew the “right” thing to do. No hesitation.

    Thank you for sharing your Babooshka. Your words eloquently described her. She sounds like an amazing woman. I will say a prayer for both her and her sister.

    Count me in the chorus who tell you no apologies! It is I who should apologize for not finding this post until now. As it turns out for me, it is a well timed gift:)

    • Katia says:

      This comment, Denise — I would say made my day, except it’s so much more than that. It was so sweet and uplifting and thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting it that day and I’m so sorry for not getting back to you right away, there was just too much life going on in the last few days.I am so glad that reading the post was timely for you and I hope that what it was that was weighing heavily on you is much better now. xoxo

  27. […] Deb, who wanted more naked. For Jen, who cannot ever stop writing. For Katia, who’s about to start a new job… because life was not intense enough as it was, was it, […]

  28. I’m really glad you were able to go. So glad.

  29. I am so glad that you were able to see her!

  30. lovedare73 says:

    You are brave and strong. Great article. 🙂

  31. Katia says:

    Reblogged this on iamthemilk and commented:

    Today Babooshka passed away within less than a month of her younger sister, Ninulya. This is dedicated to her with infinite love and gratitude.

  32. Sarah says:

    What a lot of loss and grief for you in a short period of time, Katia! I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  33. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    I am so so sorry, Love. So sorry. Huge hugs and prayers of peace to you and your family. I’m thinking of you…

  34. StaceyL says:

    Thank you for reminding the rest of us to take the time to enjoy and reach out while we still have that opportunity. Your words were eloquent, touching and heartfelt. I felt part of the piece due to your storytelling, descriptions and attention to detail. The ebb and flow was like a musical score. Excellent post and I look forward to more.

    oh, Happy Hanukkah!

    Stacey

    • Katia says:

      Happy Hanukkah! Thank you so much for the heartfelt comment. It means SO much these days. Every comment l get makes me feel better for her. Processing my grandma’s death just three weeks after her sister has been a strange experience. I’m feeling numb and guilty for my numbness and somehow exposing others to the significance my grandma bears for me helps.🙂

      • StaceyL says:

        Katia,

        Your pain shows you that you are still alive. We all have pain but it’s how we push past it that makes us different. Sharing how you feel will keep you from internalizing it, which is never good.

        Happy Hanukkah,
        Stacey

  35. Thank you for sharing. May they rest in peace.

  36. Bowrag says:

    Great that you made the trip!

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