I’m doing two things right now that feel a little… strange. One is that I’m spending days on end by the bedside of my dying grandmother, holding her hand and carefully watching her body shut down. The other is that I’m writing about it in real-time. On the Internet.
My grandmother, Sarah “Sally” Dopp (they gave me her name but not her nickname) is going to die soon. The fact that she hasn’t yet is shocking. She’s come really close. Twice.
The first was Friday afternoon, when my mother called me to say they had stopped her chemo and dialysis treatments, and that she was dying. The doctors didn’t think she’d last a few hours, let alone the whole night. They were in New Hampshire, I was in San Francisco, and the only bookable flights I could find were red-eyes that would get me there at 6am. I panicked, packed anyway, and shot a message out to twitter:
sarahdopp: Grandma’s dying. I need a flight from SFO or OAK to BOS or MHT *right now*. Cant find anything that lands before 6am tomorrow. Can you? Help
I was flooded with messages. More sites to check, tips on how to approach and talk to airlines at the last minute, offers of frequent flier miles, specific research on possible flights, offers to help raise funds to pay for the expensive last minute ticket, ideas for other airports I could fly into, echoes to broader networks of people, and messages of love and support. A few people even started calling airlines on my behalf, asking which flights were already booked and what my other options were.
A dear friend got to my apartment as soon as she could and drove me to the airport. I spent the ride checking messages and calling people, trying to narrow down what airline would be the most likely solution. For each possible flight someone had found for me, I only had a window of 15-30 minutes to buy the ticket and board the plane. I ran. I got a direct flight. It landed me in Boston at 10:25pm.
I would not have gotten there on Friday without your help.