Sometimes it takes sadness to remind you of how lucky you are and how fortunate you are to have both family and friends around you. I was standing Wednesday night in my aunt’s hospital room, looking around at her and her belongings and thinking how much we importance we place on the things around us, whether they be pieces of jewelry or clothing or even a favorite photo or novel. On her table lay her glasses and a half-read paperback novel, one she would not finish. She was still wearing her bracelets, her ring and her necklace. These items mean little to someone who is lying in a hospital bed, dying of cancer, however we place such importance on these  “things” and so many other inconsequential “things” during our lives, when we are healthy and death is someone else’s tragedy.

The sense of accomplishment I felt on Wednesday morning was quickly replaced by sadness late Wednesday afternoon, as I was driving down to New Jersey after speaking to my mom and learning the her sister, my aunt, was indeed dying and this was my race against fate to attempt to say goodbye. Caught between the conflicting duties of child and mother the remainder of the week was a whirlwind to say the least. I found myself driving back on Thursday afternoon to be here for a tooth extraction appointment for my youngest son (which I wound up missing and Tom covered) and my oldest son’s birthday. News came in the early morning hours on Saturday that my aunt had passed away. I think that the hardest part of the events over the last few days was leaving to come home. I left the hospital and my aunt knowing that I would never see her again despite my attempt at a cheery goodbye to her. I also left with the smacking realization that it was highly likely that one day that same type of encounter could be the last exchange that I would have with my mother. I would say goodbye and realize that perhaps it might be for the last time, not for a desire to be there, but trying to resolve the conflicting roles of mother and daughter.

Easter was a bittersweet holiday, tinged with the reminder that life really is special and our relationships with those special in our lives should be cherished.

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