A brutally honest conversation about death. But no taxes.

I put my dog down this Fall. She was 14, and very much my family. She was sick for longer than a year. I became so attuned to her every breath that each time she had trouble I was at full alert, caring for her.

I joked that my dog and my grandmother would inevitably die in the same year. You know, just to make things super-depressing. But now my Grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and is in the hospital in pain with acute kidney failure and heart complications. Poor lady; she’s in pain.

I’m sorry that my experience with my dog resembles my experience with my grandmother, but I can’t stop myself from referring to recent experiences of loss in this situation with my Grandmother’s life. I’ve never had kids, or been married, but I know from loss. I was 20 when my best childhood friend died.

Another important experience that applies to this situation: My dad’s mom, the PhD of the family, died of Alzheimer’s disease. Although my father handled himself with sincerity and love, her funeral was still a sad occasion. Even when death is a blessing for the deceased, the living still manage to find the suckitude of it!

My friend Jason described Alzheimer’s as a disease of the victim, most affected by the people around the victim. But I am grateful that I have had great times with my grandma. She was always sassy! She raised four amazing women. And she gave Little Girl Ashley her dream dress:


I don’t remember what inspired my very young obsession with what I called a “pop-out dress” (because when you spun around in it, the skirt popped out and all the bows and bells attached to all the layers underneath became visible), but I do remember how happy this dress made me. I remember the joy that I felt because the pop-out dress felt like a family thing. And my Grandma conspired with my parents to give me that dress. She also made me a play wedding dress. Yep, I used to play dress up as a bride. I guess that got it all out of my system!

The crappiest thing about death — other than the miserable suffering that preceeds it for many people — is that those of us who are left behind have to deal with the loss.


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