Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Death and dying.

To note, I grew up without any grandparents. They had all died before I was born. Since then, very few people I've known have died. Those that have were old and their deaths did not come as much of a surprise. None of them I was close with. The one exception, well, I wouldn't have wished him dead, but let's say we didn't agree on much.

Recently, my father's cousin died. I hadn't seen her much, but the little I did left a positive, lasting impression on me. She was a fun lady, and relatively young to boot. But she had a bout with cancer and died shortly after the diagnosis. I've never known anyone who died from cancer. The near daily e-mail reports would come in. First she wasn't feeling well, then she started losing touch with reality. Then she was in a coma. It all happened so fast I thought she would pull out of it and regain her health somehow. But, instead, her living will dictated she not be given nutrients in this scenario. So she lasted a few days before her body finally gave out.

I understand now how families will wait and wait and wait on pulling the plug, just hoping that their relative will somehow wake up and pull through. I keep thinking, what if they'd given her more of a chance? Would she have ever come back?

Around the same time this was happening, we got reports from my own cousin that her mother's health was failing. We'd known for a while that this woman let her diabetes go for years, and was suffering from some of the consequences. It's hard to feel sorry for her when she was the only one stopping herself from getting help. However, this wasn't the only thing she'd been letting go.

It seems that she has been hiding breast cancer for 8 years. We're still trying to get our heads around that. On top of that, she'd never gone to see a doctor after her heart surgery years ago. Her heart was is poor condition since she did nothing to keep it healthy. So now we have 3 things killing her all at once. All either preventable, or reducible by her own means. It's very hard to feel bad for her.

On the other hand, she's my only aunt. She's been a stubborn woman that I've always had a bit of respect for. She never took crap from anybody, and she had a good eye for people. Sure, she's not always been the best person herself, or to herself, but as a close relative, it's been pretty easy to look past that. Now that woman is nearly gone from this world. She's been in a downward spiral for the last few weeks. Sure, there have been some bursts of vigor, but all in all it's been leading to one thing.

She's not dead yet, and if her past is any prediction, she probably won't die for a while. I can only hope she continues to be the stubborn old lady I've always known. Though I'd like to yell at her for being as stupid about her health as she has been, I really just want to hug her one last time. I want her to meet my girlfriend and give me some approval. I want her to be around for her grandkids so they can grow up knowing who their grandmother was.

It's all been hard on me, and I can't help but cry a little when I think about it. I guess this is part of the inevitable road one walks down in the path of life. Some day I will have to see my own parents go, and I can't bear to think about it. I hope by then I will have children of my own, who will have had a chance to meet their grandparents and learn about them firsthand. I hope we all feel like they had led long, fulfilling lives.

To my mom and my dad and my sister, I love you all.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm sorry for your loss Alex. I will say the Kaddish tonight with her in mind.
B'Shalom.