9/21/06

Life Is Sweet

This is a heavy, depressing post. So, if you came here to be uplifted, to chuckle, to read about the mundane - you'll have to keep shopping today.
My aunt (by marriage) has been watching her father battle cancer for sometime now. It hasn't looked good for quite a while & he's nearing the end of his very long battle. Hospice is now involved, and my aunt's family are all spending the nights in their parent's home.
I was visiting over at my mom's house tonight with the kids & my uncle (my mom's brother & the husband of the aunt I'm speaking of) called. I overheard my mother talking to him in a hushed, sympathetic tone. My heart felt heavy. I feel for my aunt & what her family must be going through.
My mom & my stepfather have taken in two of my stepfather's siblings when they were battling cancer & were there when both passed. I was not around much when they were caring for the first of his siblings, but I was around almost everyday with the second.
My stepfather's sister stayed with them for almost a year. She was battling breast cancer - for years. It got to the point where the doc told her there really wasn't much else to be done. The doc gave her the option to proceed with chemo, but felt that it really wouldn't help her anymore. She decided to not continue with chemo, but that she would continue to fight. She said, "This doesn't mean that I'm giving up." However, her little body had fought as hard as it could for as long as it could.
I remember sitting with her around Halloween. She used to love watching Turner Classic Movies. "The Bad Seed" was on. And she was sitting up, eating, talking about how wicked the little girl was in that movie.
A week later, she could barely sit erect. She was a shell of the person I had seen a week earlier. I was stunned and sad.
Connor always looked out for her when we went down there. He would hang out near her when she was sitting in her big recliner and chat with her. Whenever we walked in the house he would say, "Is Kas here? HI, Kas!!!" Near the end she could no longer speak. She couldn't swallow, she would sit in a wheelchair for just a few minutes at a time b/c she was too weak to sit up.
One evening, the kids & I walked into the house, and Kas was sitting in her wheelchair visiting with her sister. She didn't look anything like herself. Connor looked around and said, "Where's Kas?" And she shrugged the saddest shrug & all she could muster was the saddest "hrumph". I could see on her face that her worst fears were realized in that simple little question from a two-year-old boy.
She was going.
I will never forget that moment as long as I live.
I have never been around someone who was terminally ill before. And I have to say, watching someone leave this world & enter into another is sad, heart-wrenching, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. And as a mother, it is terrifying and completely scary. In ways you'd never imagine. Until the moment you have a life dependant on yours & you even fathom for a second having to leave it.........forever.
Your worst fear is leaving your children. I got to thinking about how fast time goes. As I watched Kas slipping away from us, I got to thinking about how one minute, she was holding her newborn babies in her arms. Time seems forever. Her whole life was ahead of her. And then, in what seems like less than a blink, it's done. Even though her kids were all grown with their own families, I can only imagine the panic she must have felt, knowing she was leaving them behind.
My mom & stepfather took care of her everyday. And that, I know for a fact, took it's toll in ways I will never comprehend. They saw things I will never see. They experienced death & mortality in a way I never have. But I remember how drained I was at that time.
And as the anniversary of her passing approaches, I feel reflective of it again. It's something I feel I need to keep close. To remember how fragile we all are. That the ties that keep us together need always remain strong. I try to keep it close to remind myself how much I care, how deeply I do love and how fleeting this all is.
Stupid fights are stupid fights, misunderstandings are misunderstandings. But there are things that are bigger and better than all of that. And we are fools if we go through everyday without reminding ourselves that Life Is Beautiful, Love Is Beautiful. And those we care for most are beautiful, fleeting things. It's not forever. No matter how young, blessed, or purposeful we think we are.
She was good to give me that lesson. Not to say that I don't need to be reminded. I slip. But this time of year, as excited as I am as Fall approaches, will always remind me of her. Kas's fight and my lesson learned.
Godspeed, Kas.

They told you life is long
Be thankful when it's done
Don't ask for more
You should be grateful
But I tell you life is short
Be thankful because before you know
It will be over
Cause life is sweet
And life is also very short
Your life is sweet
~Natalie Merchant "Life is Sweet"

7 ripples in the pond:

Pippajo said...

I hardly know what to say...

My cousin has terminal brain cancer. 34 years old, 3 children ages 8,6, and 4. She's like a sister to me and lives just 5 minutes away so I see her and talk to her almost every day.

I dread what is ahead for her, her family, the rest of us who love her. I fear it, yet I don't want to miss any of it.

You took my breath away. I want to say thank you, but I'm not even sure for what. So, just, thank you.

Tabba said...

I hardly feel appropriate at saying 'thank you' - though I am glad my words had an impact.

I think the first post I commented on you blog was regarding your cousin. I felt/feel for you & her beyond words.

Kas, her fight & my lesson mean so much to me. I was an embattled soul for a long time & it wasn't until Bryan & the kids that I stopped running. And Kas taught me what I already 'knew', but hadn't yet figured out. I feel that it was a gift. Like I had said, I didn't know her well. Other than the year that she spent at my mom & stepfather's house. But her impact on me will last a lifetime.

Tabba said...

I didn't meant that how I typed it. I meant to say I hardly feel appropriate saying "you're welcome"......I'm an idiot, Pippajo. I haven't had my coffee yet.
I'm just glad this post reached someone & meant something. :)

slackermommy said...

Very thought provoking post. I'm sorry about your aunt. It's so hard to watch someone battle cancer.

Samantha said...

Hi, I'm a first time visitor over from chunky monkey's sight.

This post caught my eye. I'm watching a friend with cancer right now. He is not doing well. Last year we both had it at the same time. I got better. He did not... and he likely never will at this point.

It hurts to see.

You've got perspective... life IS beautiful. A day without pain, a healthy day, a day without feeling death reaching for you or for someone you love... -that is a good day. Even if you hate your job or fight with your family. A day with health and love is a good day.

Take care.
sam

Jen R. said...

"And those we care for most are beautiful, fleeting things."

that is a great sentence. it is so true. i've always been a little TOO mindful of how fleeting all of this is, and perplexed by the number of people who live like they will never die. i guess you could call me morbid, but for me that awareness generates optimism and a live-it-to-the-fullest attitude.

Tabba said...

I agree, Jen. People view may view me as harping on morbid thoughts. But how are we really supposed to appreciate the good without properly taking time to appreciate the 'bad'??