Wednesday, March 11, 2015

For My Aunt Janice: Two Years Later

Your broken body cannot weather the years your youth longs to spend 
    So go down graceful 

    Sleep with the angels, and wake up whole again 

    'It was not your time'  
    That's a useless line 
    A fallen world took your life 
    But the God that sometimes can't be found will wrap himself around you
    So lay down, sister, lay down

-Bebo Norman

She greeted me with a smile as she physically strained to pull her blankets higher, tucked under her chin.  She didn't look like herself, her shell was weak and small.  I sat at her bedside hesitantly, realizing she was not just sick, she was dying.  I had planned this visit to say good-bye because I was moving to Idaho in two weeks and was not sure when I would be back for a visit.  And she was sick.  I didn't know she was dying.  

She didn't look like herself but when she greeted me, her beautiful brilliance shone through.  Her eyes were a little brighter as she said, "Hello, Dearie."  She would have hugged me but she was cold so I put my hand on her shoulder ever so gently and told her it was okay.  In true form, she was not focused on herself, rather she wanted to hear about my engagement, upcoming marriage, and I showed her my ring.  We talked for about 5 minutes and I could tell she was getting worn out so I said good-bye and I love you and left the room.  

Seeing her and realizing she wasn't just sick, she wasn't just weak and recovering, left me in shock.  I managed to spend the afternoon with her family and not break down and then Hospice arrived.  Hospice came in and set up.  She was dying soon.  How could I not have known?  I still struggle with some guilt from that.  

My last moments with her were sweet.  I left a letter with her husband to read to her later, that I knew she didn't have the energy for while I was there.  The letter was about her.  It was about all she had done for me, unknowingly.  It was what I wanted her to know before I moved 1,500 miles away but it ended up being what I wanted her to know before she left us.

I have been trying to write about her for two years.  She passed away two years ago today.  I have six drafts and each starts differently.  Each says too much and not enough.  I have this analogy in my head that when she died, I sustained a wound.  The wound is healing very slowly.  It hasn't started to clot.  The bleeding has stopped, but it's still open and requires a bandage.  As time has progressed, the wound has become part of me.  I am used to cleaning it, babying it, ignoring it; it's normal now but sometimes it festers.  Sometimes just the reminder of saying good-bye, sometimes the memory of her in my life, sometimes something insignificant reminds me of how much I miss her.  I'm reminded of how much I miss seeing her with my Uncle, with my cousins, in the pew on the other side of the church, at family functions. I miss her comments on facebook and that she used to read this blog and encourage me to write.  I miss that she is on the earth with us.  

I received the call the day after I said good-bye to her.  I was driving home.  My route redirected to her home where I embraced my cousin, her youngest son, in a desperate attempt to remain calm but to also try to transfer his pain to me, which didn't actually work, but I wish it had. 

I spent the whole rest of the night, into the early hours of the morning with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  I couldn't help but feel a little thankful that I was able to say good-bye, to spend time mourning with my family, and attend her memorial service  before I moved away.  

For feeling thankful, I felt guilty.  I wish she would have recovered.  It wasn't her time.  Two years later, I mourn differently.  She has met her Creator.  She isn't in any pain.  I am happy for that but find it difficult that a disease took her incredible spirit from us.  The finest moment, no man can measure, is to look your Savior in the eyes. 

Rita, by Bebo Norman

Lay down softly in our sorrow
Lay down sister to die
And cover over, my sweet Father
Cover over her eyes

Your broken body, it cannot weather
The years your youth still longs to spend
So go down graceful, sleep with the angels
And wake up whole again

'Cause it was not your time; that's a useless line
A fallen world took your life

But the God that sometimes can't be found
Will wrap Himself around you
So lay down, sister, lay down

Slower passing are the hours
To tell this tale that takes it's time
But the finest moment, no man can measure
Is to look your Savior in the eyes

So take her tender to Your table
Take her from this killing floor
To taste the water that is forever
Let her be thirsty no more

It was not her time; that's a useless line
A fallen world took her life

But the God that sometimes can't be found
Will wrap Himself around you
So lay down, sister, lay down

And the God that sometimes can't be found
Will wrap Himself around you
So lay down, Sister, lay down