Friday, July 22, 2011

A Sorrowful Celebration

Many of us go on and on when something unfair or tragic happens to us or our families, but what about the few that keep their true pains to themselves?  It must take so much courage to not tell everyone that they are facing death and the terror that they're feeling, not to mention the pain.  When my aunt was killed this past March, we had just marked a few hours before the seventh anniversary of my mom's untimely passing.  It usually falls upon me to notify the entire family, and it's always quite an undertaking.  I still discover new family members every time I have to give notice, usually about a loved one's passing.

One person I called I knew since I was a little girl.  She's my aunt, I think.  Unusual that I still don't know if we're cousins or if she's my aunt.  My great-grandparents raised many of their orphaned grandchildren, including my mom.  So the lines were blurred, and they're all now my aunts and uncles.  This particular aunt is not so much older than myself, and I am 38 years old.  She has a son in high school and a son in elementary school.  When I called her to give her the bad news about my mom's little sister's murder, she was sad but also, strangely, detached.  Then she told me that though she wished she could be there for the wake and funeral, she was very sick but would try to go.

She had been sick for years, and I didn't know.  Now that she was about to face chemo, she couldn't hide it anymore.  I caught a glimpse of her at another cousin's baby shower, and she was so thin and frail.  Two weeks ago, yet another cousin posted on the family's Facebook walls that she was planning a surprise family reunion for her.  Our ailing aunt had mentioned she wished she could see the family together again.  You see, the doctors have told them that there's little time left.  She is undergoing chemo yet again.  Hope is always the last to die.  But instead of starting this coming Monday, July 25th, it was moved up to this past Monday, the 18th.

I am glad to have a chance to see her and talk to her again, but I am sad beyond words.  I should be grateful... when my mom died, she'd suffered a burst aneurysm and didn't come out of her coma for 10 days before passing.  It is the only time that we are going to have the opportunity to say to any family personally that we love them before dying.  Since 2004 to now, we have lost at least one family member a year.  In 2008, we lost four.  My maternal grandmother's sister lost her husband and then her 30-year-old daughter within one year of each other.  I hope that my cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews manage to make it a lighthearted gathering.  I hate to stress my aunt or make her more scared than she already must be.

God, what should I say?  What can I ask?  Is there anything I can do to make her forget, at least for a while, that this may be our last gathering with her?  God, take her pain away now, and receive her in your celestial embrace when her time comes.  I humbly pray to You that You grant her and her children and husband a miracle.  I humbly beg this in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


  1. Family gatherings are important. We are beginning to make a point of having at least one a year, and this time it dawned on my that to many of us it may be the last time there--I too went through chemo and radiation for the 2nd time this past year and a few of us have been ill.
    But we have to stay strong, take the beauty of every day as it comes and smile, always smile. And yes, make sure we let our beloved ones know how much we care for them, at all times.

  2. I'm praying for you and your loved ones, Teresa. I hope that your chemo makes your cancer go into remission, which then makes it go away forever. Thank you for your kind words. GBU.