(Circleslide "Uncommon Days")
My aunt died today. Four small words which change many lives. A husband lost his wife, three kids lost their mom and eight grandchildren won't know the grandmother who adored them all. Her neices and nephews have lost an aunt. Her sisters have lost yet another. We all grieve.
Monica fought her cancer with prayer, courage, and her normal feisty self. Diagnosed 19 months ago with Stage 4 Lung cancer; she fought hard and for a brief time conquered cancer. Four months ago, the cancer returned, now attacking her liver. A month ago she found out that it was also attacking her lymph nodes and lungs. Not a good prognosis, but she continued to fight.
My mom saw her two weeks ago. Monica was full of life in spite of the shadow hanging over her. Her sisters were visiting. They cooked, they joked, she was living and chemo was nary a thought in her mind. Yes, she had pain, but there were pills to dull that ache.
Love of life.
My sister and I saw her 5 days ago. She looked so small and frail. Her voice was weak, but she still wanted to speak with us. She was in awe over the tulips we brought for her. It was good to see her, but hard. She was cold. She had a heating pad and blanket to warm her. Her hands shook. It took all her energy to drink a glass of ice tea.
We spent six hours simply speaking with her. The first poignant memory of that conversation was our discussion of baptism. Her desire was to be re-baptized by emersion. I had recently experienced a rededication of my life to Christ. It was pleasing to hear of her desire. The second memory was our discussion of a cross wall in her home. I purchased a beautiful rustic wall hanging of a 3-D cross. She showed us the artwork she was going to remove and replace with crosses.
As we said goodbye, I didn't realize that would be the last time I would tell her that I loved her. She struggled to stand, to walk us out. I told her she didn't have to; however, she stood and walked outside, leaning on her husband. She waved until we were gone. That was the last time I would see her.
What transpired Thursday was a shock. My cousin called, which is rare, although we are close. She said her dad called to say that her mom was not doing well. A conversation with the doctor hinted at the need to call hospice. An appointment to discuss was made.
I relayed messages to my sister, my father(who was out of the country), and I made a personal appearance at home to talk to my mom. We were planning our trips up to visit for what could be the last time. We would find out more after the doctor's visit. We waited.
Shortly after 6:00 a.m., I received a phone call from my father. He bore bad news. Monica passed away. My uncle was too heartbroken and unconsolable to call us so he asked Daddy to pass the word.
I called my sister, spoke to my mom. I didn't cry. Not yet, there is time for that later. Later was a moment in the car when I remembered our discussion of the cross wall. Later was a conversation with my mom. She recounted Aunty Monica mentioning how nice it was to see us Saturday, how pretty the flowers were, and how she felt bad that she didn't cook anything for us to eat.
Later will be that moment graveside, remembering that she was given a short time to shine the light.
And she did.