I will not get too maudlin on you, but I still feel the need to post about this. I found out on Friday that my Great Aunt P is dying - it will probably be within the next week or so. She is 87, so while this is not Heartbreakingly Grecian Tragic, I am still so very, very sad about it and will miss her deeply. On Monday, I said my goodbyes to her. She is now requesting no visitors save for nurses and her minister. Her husband and son are already gone. She had no siblings. Her body is slowly shutting down and she would prefer no witnesses save for the professionals. I do not blame her.
Oh, who the hell am I kidding? Watch me get maudlin.
Yes, her dying is not shocking - I knew the end was coming at Christmas when she opened her present from me (a copy of the The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court) She told me then that she could not read books any longer. Two weeks ago, she stopped reading her beloved daily papers - the Kansas City Star and the Washington Post (Note: All the Rabid Readers in my audience just vigorously nodded their heads in understanding as to what all this meant. No books? No newspapers? The end is near.)
I have been losing sleep these past 5 days, waiting for the call from the nursing home. I lay awake at 4 am thinking, "Is she already gone?" I wake up in the morning thinking "Will this be the day?" Furthermore, I am on her living will, so if the need comes for decisions to be made, I am the one who will tell the nursing home what to do next. Granted, the decision was actually made by Aunt P and I will merely be enforcing it, but I am still nervous about it. I sleep with my phone near me - I am so afraid if I miss the call they will proceed with something that she did not want.
I think what makes my heart crumble the most is this:
- I will not get to present her with a copy of the book being published late this summer which contains some words that I wrote my very own self. Aunt P was the first family member to whom I told the news - I still have not have really told too many folks because that also involves admitting I have a semi-anonymous blog (I am so not ready to tell my grandma that I write things on this here Internet. For one, she will ask for a printout.) Aunt P was very excited about the book.
- Aunt P will not live to see this year's presidential election. A historical election that will probably have a black man and/or white woman and most likely a Vietnam Vet as well. Aunt P was an eager follower in politics - local, national and international. Her missing this year's election is particularly poignant for me and I will be thinking of her when I vote this year.
- The next time I buy a handbag or a pair of shoes I will have no one to share it with who truly gets excited. Most folks in my life think it is foolish to spend so much on a pair of shoes or handbag. Perhaps it is, but Aunt P understands why one would do so anyway. When she saw the kids for the last time, she made me promise that I will teach Anjali that accessories make an outfit and that it is worth it to spend good money on your feet.
- I will no longer get to share with her all the little silly things that Arun does. She truly enjoyed Arun and it gave her so much joy to remember all the things that her own son used to do. Her son's passing away 6 years ago broke her heart. Having Arun around spurred so many memories for her that she had forgotten. I will never forget how tickled she was with Arun at Halloween as he hopped all over her room in his kangaroo outfit. It reminded her of several Halloweens past that she had forgotten and she described in detail how she had handmade some outfits for her own son.
Any time that someone in your life is passing on, you think. Real hard and real long. I have accomplished so many of my lifelong dreams, although I still have many more. I went to college. I had a career. I found a life partner. I have traveled all over the world. I have had children. Foolishly, I thought that would be enough. Now, I want to see my children accomplish their dreams. I am selfish like that.
Go with peace, Aunt Peggy. Go with peace.