13 November 2015

Death


It welcomes us all at some point.  I have been kicking this post around for almost a month now.  Wait!  I know I have become quite laggy at posts but this one I seriously had to wait on.

Michelle, I just got your advent.  I am glad you got my post cards.

Will, I had a great time visiting you and the Mrs'.

Yu, thanks for showing us around Tokyo.  It was a blast.

Cameron, Yuan and Katherine.... I hope to catch you on one of my travels or one of yours.

Before I delve into my trip to South Korea and Japan (future posts... fo'real).  I do have one thing to say:  My aunt passed. Some people may be thinking, oh her aunt that's sad.  It is sad especially since my aunt raised me from infancy through my teen years.  She was the one to rush me to the hospital when I had a seizure.  She was the one that got called to the principal's office when I was bad.  She was my mom away from my real mom.


Yes, the same aunt my sister and I took to both Hawaii and Mexico.  Let me give a little backstory... I hope this doesn't infringe on her but she always said to keep things in the family within the family.  And I have.

But now I am trying to work through the stages of mourning.  Denial is passed, I have come to grips with the death.

Backstory:
While on our trip to Mexico, my aunt complained of pain.  She got grumpy a few times with my mom and her energy levels were not what they were when we were in Hawaii a year ago.  Something was amiss.....   We gave her the proper threat; we felt, to coax her into a doctor visit.  (My aunt is a machine (or rather was) she was never sick and never needed medical care.)  We told her if she did not visit a doctor for her pain, we would not take her on anymore fun vacations!!!  (Insert angry face!)

The beginning of the end.....
She went to the doctor.  Early this year she told us all she was diagnosed with cancer.  Stage 4.  Lung, bone, breast.... it had pretty much metastasized.  (Once upon a time I studied medicine, didn't have the guff for it, I knew my aunt's condition was very bad.)

She started experimental treatment.  The cancer was encroaching on her spinal cord, it was already in the bones of her spine.  You can only imagine how bad that can be (imagine tldr? it's okay.... just know it's bad.... cancer or not).

My aunt was a good sport... I think maybe she understood the severity of her condition.  I already knew.... there was no coming back.  It was only a matter of time and I just wanted her to go comfortably.

One of my less tactful sisters asked my aunt (and asked her oncologist) how long she had left.  My aunt didn't want to know.  So the only one that really did know was her doctor.

Told you this is a long story.... and this is the short version.  Feel free to jump ship at anytime.  This doesn't have a happy ending.

As my aunt's treatment progressed she got a little weaker.  Her appetite was there but food made her sick quite often.  She pressed on with life as usual.  She even had plans to visit New York in October.

Just a few weeks before her trip she came down with pneumonia.  Her doctor put a halt to any travel plans she had.  My aunt had my mom take her place for the trip.  My aunt was admitted for a few short days and then sent home.

Wednesday the fourteenth of October was the last time I saw my aunt alive.  I had stopped by my sister's house to give my mom some fun money for her trip to New York.  My aunt fed me a bunch of fresh fruits, we all sat and had a nice talk.  I asked my aunt what goodies I should bring her back from my trip.  Thursday morning my mom flew to New York.  Thursday night my mom sent me a text message showing me some pretty broaches she bought for her and my aunt.

Friday morning, the sixteenth, I had been at work maybe 15 minutes or so when I got a very distressed call from my sister.  I knew.  I told my co-worker I had to leave, collected my feelings and calmly drove to my sister's house.

As I pulled up to her street I saw the fire truck, an ambulance and a police cruiser.  I noticed EMS personnel were standing around outside talking, I knew.  I walked in to find my uncle and sister in tears.  And that Friday was the last day I saw my aunt.  I had to pull myself together and help my uncle with paperwork and what to do with her remains.  I had watched my aunt go through the same ocean of questions and paperwork when my grandparents passed as I was going through.  The reins of responsibility were being passed down to the next generation.

In less than 24 hours I was due for a flight out of Los Angeles headed for South Korea.  My travel plans didn't change, not once did I think of cancelling my trip.  My aunt had given everyone strict orders to keep living and follow through with all plans.  

That Friday, I went into robot mode and was able to get the ball rolling on my aunt's cremation, her final viewing and comfort my family as best I could.  And then I was off, for three weeks, in two different countries.

Being back, it's been a little hard.  I can't tell if my sleep habits are depression or jet lag.  I can't tell if I feel emotional because Aunt Flo is around the corner or because I am grieving.  I feel tired and aside from the comfort of my job, I don't feel the urge to run or do ceramics.  I don't feel like seeing friends who mean well and want to comfort me.  I just want to feel numb, turn on auto-pilot and let the rest of the year go by without having to deal with any feelings.  I just want to work.

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