Last Tuesday, Feb 22 2005, at 10:30 something at night, my aunt lost her battle with leukemia and passed away. The truth is that she had beat the leukemia because we had been blessed with a bone marrow donor, but she fought a raging battle with Graft Vs. Host disease, and in the end it was actually pneumonia (a secondary infection) that got her- which is what gets most transplant patients. Her death is actually a blessing: she required round the clock care, had brain damage from some of the drugs she was on, her physical theripists did not think she would walk again, and my cousin (her daughter) had left her husband and her life in VA to come home to care for her mother until who knows when. Being bed ridden and slightly crazy was a lousy life and I think she was tired of fighting and just wanted peace.
My cousin was the sister I always wanted and my mother never had. My aunt was my other mother. She was one of the smartest people I ever met, and was a master of the guilt trip. She loved to dance. She was a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and we're the only troop I know of who sang Broadway showtunes and hits of the 60's- because that's what she taught us. She adored rock maple furniture from the 50's and bought antique table linens to adorn it. She loved animals. She volunteered tirelessly. I could spend hours and 1,000's of digital pages to describe her and recount all the wonderful memories I have and the beautiful and selfless things she did for me and so many others.
And what I want to know now is "how am I supposed to explain to Tenley who this fabulous woman was???" I am so sorry that she didn't live long enough to see her come home. She was having so much fun planning my baby shower- Chinese food and decorations, all the shower games, and she wanted to make chocolate dipped fortune cookies for dessert. As far as she was concerned, this would be her first "grandaughter". She bought Tenley an antique chenille baby blanket and Chinese paper dolls. She was so happy and excited for me, and I am so sorry that she is gone.
I know that her spirit will live on in things that I do and say that came from her: like everytime my daughter will dramatically carry on over a hang nail or a case of the sniffles and I look at her and say "Well, it's not leukemia" - which is what she used to tell us kids as a polite way to say "Suck it up you're not really sick" (ironic that one day it was leukemia). Or the first time my child is seen wearing something hideous/questionable and I say "Tenley.....I don't believe I've seen those pants before." And I can make her bbq'd chicken, and her potato cheese casserole, and the jello dessert with the pretzel crust...but I just can't figure out how Tenley will ever know how wonderful and amazing she was....and that breaks my heart.
I loved her so much- and I never told her that enough. I don't have any words to comfort my cousin whose grief is as deep as the ocean, or my own mother who lost both of her best friends in the last year. I only know that I will miss her all the days of my life and that if I manage to be half the mother she was I'll be happy.
August 12, 1946 - February 22, 2005
I love you, and I miss you.