Death has Opened its’ Door to my Family

Death seems to have opened its’ door to my family. I have never experienced a death of someone close to me in my almost 30 years of living. I suppose you could say that I’ve been very lucky and fortunate. But now that I’ve experienced losses of family members, I feel like death is catching up for lost time.

Regrets cross my mind with things I could have and should have done with these family members. How I regret not talking with them more or making time specifically to see them. But that doesn’t bring them back. It doesn’t make me feel any better. Death only helps the suffering. And my (great) aunt Jan was as strong as she could have been until the end. I’m so glad that I was able to see her and speak with her (a little bit as it was very hard for her to talk), but she recognized me when she opened her eyes, smiled at me and managed to tell me “thank you so much for coming”.

Even until the end, my aunt Jan was still watching out for others and expressing her thanks. She was a teacher for many years (retired when she passed). She touched many lives of the children she taught, which even included high school friends of mine. They remember her as a nice, caring and accepting teacher. While aunt Jan may not have realized how many children she touched or friends or family that she affected with her gentle ways, the amount of people saddened by her loss is truly something extraordinary.

My aunt Jan was someone I will always remember with a smile on her face. She would always ask me about my kids and how they were doing. She may have been retired, but she still cared for children just as much. I loved her and I’m so thankful I was able to spend time with her before she got sick and in her last 24 hours.

My dad thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to go see my aunt Jan while she was struggling in the hospital like she was, but I knew that I needed to see her. I needed closure. I needed to tell her I loved her one last time and comfort her. I needed to be there for her. Aunt Jan had her own children who in turn gave her a grandchild, who were obviously there for her. But I felt I had a part to play. I felt connected to aunt Jan and I already miss her. She was so blessed with all the love and memories she was surrounded with in her last days – as she wanted it.

It’s literally been just over 24 hours since she passed away. But I still feel like I will see her at her own funeral service on Saturday – ready to greet me with a hug and smile. She will be there, but in a different form. She won’t be able to physically tell me she’s there, but I know she will send us signs. I know she will help everyone get through this. She will teach us all how to grow, even in death I’m sure.

It doesn’t seem fair. My mimi (grandma) lost her son – my uncle Mark suddenly last month and now her sister this month. And my uncle Mark’s widow – she had to revisit a hospital just over a month later after she watched her husband quickly lose his life. Hospitals are uneasy enough as it is, without having to visit them for deaths so shortly spaced. My mom has been so strong as well, still battling lasting effects from her chemo and cancer surgery which removed the tumor over a year ago. All the while working and still watching out for my brother and I and every other family member. Such strong and resilient women. They are truly women to admire.

It really is just remarkable the strength that these women have. Men too. They’re strong, don’t get me wrong. But for these women that have gone through so much and still function and wear a smile on their face through the pain is nothing short of miraculous. I give them so much credit and I hope they all realize how amazing they are and how I look up to them all for so many reasons. Some others in my family too! It really does show you that there is so much as an outsider that you can’t see about someone by taking a quick glance into their lives.

But death has done the opposite. He is seemingly clinging on to my family, lurking in the shadows for his next victim. It makes me want to spend so much time with so many people. It makes me fearful for other people I love, that I’m even closer with. I’m afraid of losing people. Death whisks everyone away at one point, but sometimes the way it happens or the timing just seems wrong and unfair.

I hope that death is satisfied. He took two very amazing people so close to each other. And while I’m so happy that my uncle Mark now has aunt Jan to keep him company and vice versa, we are left saddened without their prescence. And although they are in a better place, not suffering or fighting to live, it doesn’t make me feel any better because this isn’t temporary. They won’t come back. I won’t see them again until death greets me, as I have asked so many times for him to do before. I know that my family members are resting in a safe and peaceful place now, but I (and maybe some others) certainly struggle with the notion of: why couldn’t they live peacefully and safe with us?

I know that life will go on without them, but it’s saddening to know that life goes on. As I said in a previous post – the world doesn’t stop for death and sometimes it feels like it should. We should be able to grieve without a ton of other shit happening. We should be able to focus on our family and friends without a million things crossing our minds that we need to take care of from our neverending to-do list. We should be able to just have a frickin moment. But the world doesn’t stop for death. I wished it would.

-CJ

Photo credit: here

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