I have been meaning to blog for the past week, but keep putting it off. It seems like every day I have all of these thoughts that I would like to get down, but have no motivation to do it. Instead of going back over the past several days, I am going to just write what is in my heart right at this moment. No regrets.
I have family on my Dad’s side on the East Coast that I haven’t seen in almost ten years. We used to go visit often when I was young, but I haven’t been since I was in college eight years ago. My Aunt Laura, my Dad’s sister-in-law passed away over the weekend after a very very long struggle with cancer. It wasn’t sudden and the doctors had been saying for over a week that she could pass at any time.
So we had been waiting, waiting, waiting to hear the news. When it came, I was up visiting my sister for a weekend of trying on bridesmaid dresses in anticipation of her wedding this November. Visiting my sister is stressful for me, shopping for this wedding, even the thought of the wedding is stressful. And then Dad called.
He told me that Aunt Laura had passed away during the night in her sleep on Friday. She had spent the last two weeks in and out of consciousness, at times not able to recognize anyone. He said that on Friday during the day, she had been lucid, was not feeling pain, and was able to joke, smile, laugh even with her family and closest friends. That and the fact that she passed away so peacefully gave me comfort.
My initial knee-jerk reaction was to try and find out a way to make it up for the funeral. It would have involved taking unpaid time at work, a great deal of money, and a guarantee for the collapse of my already fragile mental health. I would have done it in a heartbeat, had I had the leave, the money, the strength to do so. Looking back, I am glad I didn’t go.
I hadn’t seen my Aunt Laura or any of my East Coast family in over eight years. We don’t talk on the phone, we don’t email, we don’t stay in touch. I sent my Aunt Laura a card a few months ago and made a phone call late last year to just chat. Other than that, we have not been in contact. Even so, her death has hit me hard.
I had a very difficult time this weekend. What was already a stressful situation for me, being at my sister’s, shopping for her wedding, trying to FIT IN and BE SANE, was made unbearably difficult. I had a meltdown on Saturday, after leaving my sister’s. A lot of that I attribute to feelings of jealousy, guilt, and a myriad of other issues I have with my sister (fairly unrelated to her behavior, mostly in my head). Looking back, I attribute some of that now to hearing of Aunt Laura’s death.
Today is the day of the funeral. I talked to my Uncle Jim this morning and he sounds absolutely terrible, as can be expected. She had been sick for a very long time, and he took care of her at home for almost all of that time, including her final weeks of life. He had retired from his job over a year ago and they had been living life to the fullest, taking the trips that they wanted to take, seeing places and people that they loved. They never gave up the fight against the cancer, never laid down, but didn’t let the cancer treatments get in the way of living and loving life. I can only hope that I have that kind of end when I go, many many years down the road.
Talking to my uncle this morning was really difficult. There wasn’t a lot I could say, and I knew that. I just wanted to let him know, and believe that I did let him know, that I am thinking of them, that I am praying for them, keeping them in my heart and thoughts. I fully expect and plan that I will go visit when I can get some leave and money saved up. It is a pity that it has taken this, a death, to bring me to my senses and spark a desire in me to get up there. In all fairness, though, I haven’t been in any kind of position mentally, emotionally, financially to go visit in the past eight years. It will come in time, the time for me to go visit.
I have a pit in my stomach, knowing that the funeral is today, talking to Uncle Jim and then my Dad. I know in my heart that it is best that I didn’t go and have no regrets about that. I have no regrets about not extending myself to go visit for the last eight years either — you do what you can, when you can, if you can. The pit is more of a deep sadness, grief, realizing that Aunt Laura is gone, that so many other loved ones are gone. It’s horrible how one death reminds you of all the other death that has come to pass within your lifetime. If it were six months ago, I may have called in sick to work, but I really can’t, really won’t. The time comes when you have to deal. And that’s what I’m doing.
Tim McGraw, My Old Friend