This is the story of my Aunt's death. It is not for everyone. She died of lung cancer - even though she quit smoking many years ago...Do NOT let this discourage you. Every day spent NOT smoking is GOOD and HEALTHIER!
I don't remember if I shared before - but just before Christmas my Aunt Lucy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She quit - a long time ago! I remember seeing her puffing on an electronic cigarette or something similar when she was quitting.
Last July 4th, my mother asked my father to call his sister Lucy - so that she could say goodbye. My mother didn't want my father to be alone when she took her last breath. And, in fact, she asked dad to get her some ice chips, and while he was in the kitchen she asked Aunt Lucy to keep him in line, and took her last breath. Aunt Lucy supported my Dad in those last few minutes with Mom and the first few without her.
She has been a rock in my life - their house was a country block away. Many overnights with my cousin, weekends spent in the pool at their house, Holidays switched off between their house and ours. She ALWAYS offered me unconditional love, even when it was hard for my parents to do so. She was also a firm parent/Aunt, and didn't put up with nonsense - but her house was way more fun than mine.
Aunt Lucy beat cancer twice before this. She turned 76 in January and she tried Chemo but the side effects were worse than her illness, so she went into in-home hospice. When I visited her in late February she could still get out of bed, but didn't very often. She said she didn't hurt, just was so tired and cold. I got a bad cold and didn't visit all of March. I heard from my Dad that things were changing for her, and I asked my cousin on Monday morning if I could come visit this week - I had Tuesday and Friday off. She said I could come anytime, and confirmed that things were changing. Monday night Dad told me that he had visited her and she was still talking but not much, was no longer in control of bodily functions, and I should get there ASAP. We lost my Uncle on Thanksgiving in 2009 - I did not get there in time to say goodbye.
Tuesday morning I put the wee one on the bus, sat down to eat a bagel (I rarely eat breakfast, so I think this was God's hand making sure the timing was just right) and headed the 50 miles to see my Aunt. A few blocks away from my destination, Dad called again to make sure I was going. (I wonder now if he was going to ask me to stop and get him)
The door to my Aunt's house has always been open, so I let myself in and found my two female cousins in the kitchen with the Hospice nurse. We looked at each other and cried and hugged. They said it would be soon. Days. We cried. They took me back to see her.
Mu beautiful, amazing, strong Aunt Lucy was but a shell of her former self. Quite literally skin and bones. Dad had told me she had lost weight - but she was 90-100 pound the last time I saw her and though frail - still had some meat and tone. Now, she was all sunken eyes and cheeks, and bony fingers, and so, so different.
I don't know if she could hear me but she was no longer communicative. Her eyes were focused on something we couldn't see. I kissed her and hugged her and talked to her while holding and caressing her hand. I sat with her and my cousins for a bit. After about 15 minutes we went back out to the living room, and the nurse explained the medication schedule to keep her comfortable since she could no longer communicate her needs.
The nurse wanted to check Aunt Lucy one last time before she left - saying we could call her back any time day or night. It appeared Aunt Lucy's breath had slowed. The nurse listened to her heart and breathing, and felt her hands and saw her eyes - I'll never forget her eyes. Too much to write here. Anyway - she said it would be soon. She was going to give us some privacy - but to call her if she needed anything. None of us realized how soon "soon" would be.
I believe I gave her another kiss and told her it was ok, and asked her to say hi to my Mom and have fun with Uncle Bob. Mary remembered that when Uncle Bob was at the last, her mother insisted they hold his hands so he knew he wasn't alone. So, Mary climbed on the bed and took one hand, Wendy took the other, I held her feet, and she left.
I had only been there about 30 minutes.
We cried, we looked, we checked...it was true.
I left he girls there to call Hospice back and to call my Dad. His last sibling was gone.
I have never been with someone at that moment before, except maybe in a car accident, but I couldn't see that person's head or face so I'm not sure.
I believe Aunt Lucy wanted me there to help her girls. They now have no parents. Adam is only a year older than me - the girls are 2 and 4 years younger.
I walked back in with the nurse who confirmed what we already knew, which brought on even more tears.
I spent the rest of the day there - trying to get them to eat, helping with arrangements, making all of the notification calls. I watched as her grandkids came in, too late to say goodbye and devastated. I was the one to tell her son, Adam. It sucked.
Don't bring it closer by smoking.
Love to all.