Apr 22, 2011

Good Friday

It has been an exhausting couple of days. I'm writing to you from KC, Missouri. My aunt, who's fight with cancer ended on 4/18, was laid to rest today. It's been a bizarre experience to say the least. After the fracture of her & my mom's relationship as sisters happened sometime in the early 90's, my own memories of her have faded, much to my dismay. To the best of my ability, this is what I remember:
I remember the her house in Indiana. I remember the rural-ness of that tiny town where my grandparents lives also. I remember my cousin (who is just 2 years younger than me) getting on the school bus when we were visiting on different school holidays. I remember her house being damp & cold in the winter. I remember she would turn her oven on, open the door and lay out Kimberly's school clothes on the door to warm them up. I remember gathering at her house after the passing of my grandpa and the three of them (my mom, Aunt Barb & Aunt Lou) sitting there with coffee and recalling their own memories, most of which weren't pleasant of their own childhood. I was too involved with playing dolls and other girlish things that I never stopped to inhale those moments and keep them forever in my mind. I remember my aunt telling some strange stories of her experiences as an EMT. The very grossness of which intrigued me and I don't know why.
My relationship with my mom has always been on the unconventional side. I was close with her to a certain extent up until my rebellious adolescence entered the picture. Our relationship has seen it's ups and downs and finally at the age of 23 or so, I accepted that I would never have the mom I wanted and also realized that she did the best she could for me with what she had. I began to see her as a woman who was scarred by a very dysfunctional family and as a woman who loved me the best way she knew how. There is just one thing I don't think I will ever come to understand. My mom becomes a different creature when grieving the loss of someone she loves. I don't know if she's trying to be stoic or what but she keeps me at an arm's length emotionally. She can't be vulnerable with me, her own daughter but she can with her other sister, her nephew, her friends, or whomever.  Maybe it's just all in my head & I could be totally off base with my perception. However, I have experienced this with her on quite a number of occasions. When my grandpa died in '92, when my grandma died in '99, when my Uncle whom she was also estranged from died in '06. It's like the grief inhabits her emotions and it takes years to fade away.
There were two reasons I came to MO for my aunt's funeral. The first reason is to be supportive of my mom who left my house in September for her sister's house here in MO to see to her care and chaperon her on the daily commutes to the hospital for chemo & radiation treatments. My mom came back just once for a short period of time and immediately left when she found out that Lou would be going back to chemo treatments again. She is the one who spent hours taking care of Lou's every need. She stayed at the hospital with her and spent countless nights in an uncomfortable pull-out chair/bed. When hospice was called in, she & my Aunt Barb spent the rest of the days in the guest quarters at the hospital until Lou took her last breath. My cousin Kimberly was the only person in the room and I think Lou waited until it was just the two of them together.
The other reason I came was to pay respects to the aunt I knew and also to give what comfort I could to Kimberly. It hurts my heart to see that she won't have her mom and the separation of death will keep her from watching her first grandchild grow up. It isn't fair but death is not a respecter of persons.
One lesson that I have gleaned from this short period of time is that I want to plan my own memorial. I don't want my passing to be sad. I want it to be a celebration of the life God gave me. I want it to be a representation of the time, talents and treasures that God entrusted in me to live out. Of course crying is a natural response to grief & loss but I believe that crying is the outward symbol of the pain we as humans feel when we know we cannot touch, talk, hug, or feel that person's presence. I'd rather know that people are laughing when they say "see ya later" to me.  It has also made me realize that my relationship with my mom is precious. No, it's not perfect, it's not what others have but she's all I got while I have her. When she comes back to my house, I hope our relationship will strengthen and we can understand each other on a deeper level. We aren't guaranteed another day. We have to make each day count. If you still have your mom, hug her, call her or send her something special. We only get one mom. We have to cherish what we have.

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