Where does one even start after over a year? Well, I can say that 2016 was a good year when it started. In fact it wasn’t until Halloween that it really began to suck…..and I had no idea what was in store.
That night when ghosts and ghouls come out to play, I received a phone call on my way home from work. My best friend from high school was on the phone in a panic. She had left her mother earlier that day sitting on the couch after taking her to a doctor’s appointment. She was not able to get up. She called Jen for help. I told her to call the doctor that she had the cell phone number to and see what he said. She called back saying she was calling 911 and going to the ER. I told her after I fed the people showing to my house and spent a few minutes with Alice, I would be right there. It was then that I would learn so much in the next few days. I realized in that moment in the ER that Rosemary was not coming home. It felt like a slap….that nurse so easily giving her the IV with the morphine had just given up. Who the hell was she that she was giving up on Jen’s mom. This lady was more than that…..she put up with me as a teenager on those long Saturday nights. She gave me the name Spaz. She would make us the best snickerdoodle cookies ever! She treated me like another daughter. So, who the hell was this nurse to give up on her? My head was spinning. I took care of Jen the rest of the evening and into the early morning. I went back the next day and the next. It was that Wednesday when we were telling Rosemary goodbye, I heard her tell Jen, “I love you.” That made my heart feel better and I hoped Jen heard it. In the midst of all of this my dad had just come home from being gone for a month or more to see his family. I told him I was sorry I wasn’t around but by Thursday we got the news that Jen’s mom wasn’t going to make it through the weekend, as her organs were shutting down. It was Friday night. I told Jen I had to go to dinner with my family. I cried all the way home. I knew it wouldn’t be long. I knew the posture of that nurse as she stood over her. I was watching Rosemary’s sats and knew what was coming…….. I tried not to cry at dinner. We went to Red Lobster and I ordered the crab legs, a place I celebrated Easter with Jen and her mom in 1988 and where they taught me about crab legs and hot butter (still one of my favorites!). Afterwards, I went back to the hospital to be with Jen. I finally told her it was time to go and take care of mom’s dog, Petey. She did and of course as soon as Jen left, Rosemary’s sats started to drop quickly. I called Jen to hurry back. I had helped make the decision to increase the oxygen to include a face mask. I tried to warn Jen of how her mom looked and it was too much for her. She asked me to make phone calls and I did. I stood with her and her mom’s friend of 67 years, dear sweet Iris while she took her last breath. That nasty word, Cancer, took her. I don’t know what I expected in that moment. But, there was a strange sense of peace……there was no sound, no pain, no screaming,…..nothing. I knew what God’s plan was exactly in that moment. God was preparing me for losing my dad. I knew that if I could handle this and she was like a mom, I could handle my dad’s passing someday. I just would never have imagined that day……would be so soon.
The words of my cousin Adam. He’s the one cousin out of about 75 that I talk to more than anyone. He’s 26 and he’s autistic. It was his soulful voice that made me smile. It doesn’t matter how long time has gone between when I’ve seen him or talked to him, he remembers. He remembers and immediately breaks into song. A little Bob Seger for the soul.
But after the smile fades, my sadness returns. It seems there is way too much of that this year. It’s more just than a loss of a family member. Aunt Edith was my great aunt. She outlived all of her nieces on my Grandma’s side, including my mom. She was an amazing woman. I did not get a chance to meet her until I was a legal adult. It was like being greeted by a grandmother I no longer had and had longed for. She brought me in and loved me as if she had known me my whole life. I remember always thinking I hoped that I could be like her in so many ways: her love of God, her love of her husband my Uncle Don, being able to offer advice and wisdom to her grandchildren as I had the privilege of her sharing with me, her love for gardening, and being a good cook. I will miss her maple candy. I remember when mom asked me to write to her and ask for some. I did…..I didn’t think I would get the box out of my mom’s hands when it came in the mail! I can only hope that I live life with zest like she did and stay as spry as she was. Aunt Edith was an amazing but more I am thankful that God gave me the time I had with her. I’m sad Alice doesn’t remember her but am so thankful she got to meet her. What a wonderful moment in time to meet your great, great aunt! RIP Aunt Edith. I will miss you.
And by the way…… I’m get a little tired of turning pages in my life. This is enough loss for one year. Now time to go honor Carroll.