When I was last posting I was going through a very difficult time. It ended up being the hardest two weeks of my life.
I don't discuss my family much other than being an Auntie (which I am slightly obsessed with, lol). So...a little background with my Dad's side of the family first and then details of what I went through the last two weeks of June.
My Dad is the oldest of 4 children. You have my Dad, my Aunt Mari, my Aunt Cathy, and my Uncle Bill. Their Dad ran out on them when they were fairly young and my Grandma Betty was a single parent the rest of her life (including raising my cousin Carrie). When I was a child, we were all fairly close, we had family gatherings and such, I have good memories of those times. Now what I didn't see were the underlying problems....
The last memory I have of my Aunt Mari was when I was about 8 years old. I found out as a teenager that she was a drug addict and that was why she wasn't around anymore. So I basically wrote her off as the Aunt I don't speak of.
Anyway, last month Aunt Cathy called and asked if she could come stay with us, that Aunt Mari was dying. Of course we said yes, she flew in from Tennessee the next day. Aunt Mari had lung cancer that had spread to her brain and there was nothing more that they could do.
I spent two days debating whether or not I could go see my Aunt Mari...I wasn't sure if she would even know who I was....I had never been around a dying person before. I finally decided I should go...if I couldn't handle it, I could leave and not go back. Simple as that. Aunt Mari didn't recognize me...but as soon as I said who I was she started crying and reached for me...so I sat next to her bed and she held my hand for an hour. She wasn't very lucid most of that first day...I was sitting there staring at this person I didn't recognize, holding her hand and thinking...I can't come back here, I'm not strong enough for this...I never had a relationship with this woman. And then she looked up at me and as she started crying asked: "Why won't my kids come see me?". Aunt Mari has three children...Kenn lives in Nashville and couldn't afford to come see her, we called him and let them talk several times. Nikki and Michael are both drug addicts...without jobs or money and didn't want to come see her....
I decided right then and there that I would see her every day that I could....and I did. When I went back the next day was very lucid and she was making jokes and making peace. Here I saw this woman that had wasted her life on drugs and was realizing the relationships she cost herself. She apologized to me...and I accepted...and I gave her the love she needed during her last days.
I went almost every day with my Aunt Cathy. Some days were better than others. Her last really lucid day was 4 days before she passed. The three of us had a good morning. Aunt Mari was cracking jokes, telling stories about her and Aunt Cathy as kids...and we all sang together. The music gene runs strong in our family tree. It was a wonderful Thursday morning...we didn't expect her to make it through the weekend...but she did. She went to sleep after our visit and was never fully awake again after that day, but she knew when we were around. She would smile in her sleep, laugh when we made a joke, squeeze our hands and not let go. It was comforting knowing that she knew we were with her.
The weekend went by quickly. Monday morning my cousin (Aunt Cathy's daughter) called me from Nashville, said Aunt Mari was going to pass soon and asked me to please go sit there to be with her Mom (Aunt Cathy). I was up there in 15 mins. My Aunt Cathy and I sat and held Mari's hands while she made her way to the end of her journey. We talked her through it, listened to Elton John (one of her favorites) and sang to her. She held onto our hands until she passed. It really was a beautiful moment. And I was glad that I was there for my Aunt when she needed her family the most. And it was comforting to see her at peace...no more pain and suffering...it was a relief.
I still haven't been able to fully process everything. Aunt Cathy spent another two weeks with us and just went home a few days ago.
A week after Aunt Mari passed I was feeling pretty down and went to bed before my husband got home from work (I usually wait up for him). As I laid down, the last Elton John song that I sang to Aunt Mari on the day of her death started playing over and over in my head. I can't say which song it was, because I can't remember it anymore. It went on for over an hour, I couldn't get it to stop and I couldn't fall asleep until it finally did stop. I realized the next morning that it was Aunt Mari sending me a message. Letting me know that she made the journey to heaven, that she was with our relatives that had passed and, most importantly, that she was okay. I also feel it was her way of letting me know she heard me singing it to her and her way of saying thank you to me....thanking me for being there with her...for helping her finish the journey of her life with the love and support she needed. And her way to say goodbye to me when she wasn't able to speak at the end.