My family lost my Aunt Pat last week, the same day that I turned 35 years old. Thirty-five? My God. I have no idea where the time has gone, or what I've accomplished in my life. But, I do know that my life was made better by knowing this lady.
This picture was taken in the late-1970s/early-1980s, when Pat was in her late-twenties or early-thirties.
She was the oldest girl, and second oldest child, in the family. She and my mom had their first kids two months and two days apart, and their second children four months and four days apart. It was a freaky coincidence, but it made us four cousins very close. My mom and my cousin (Pat's son) sat with her and held her hand for her final six hours. I'm glad they were there for her, they were there for each other, and she was a part of them.
My mom's uncle (her dad's twin brother), my great-uncle, was diagnosed with lung cancer just days after we found out that Pat's cancer was back. He felt like he was ready to go (he's 85), so chose not to fight it. Yesterday, he went into the hospital for dehydration. He'll be discharged in the next few days to a skilled nursing facility for hospice/palliative care. My mom's family, who's dealt with so much death (I guess that's from having such a large family), has rallied a bit. The fractured family, while not as close as they probably should be, has seen each other a bit over the past few months. They email daily. And now, some of them who haven't spoken in a few years, are actually talking. Sometimes it takes this, this sort of loss, to remind you of what you have in each other.
Now we're preparing for another loss. I hope its effect is similar to the one that happened last week - a catalyst that sparks the reminder of the importance of family.