My aunt has cancer. Ovarian cancer. I hear that it's a particularly horrible form of cancer, one that you can't do much about. It might take her life and that horrifies me.
I saw her on July 7th, 2007. The date of my other aunt's wedding. It was a beautiful, wonderful day. A day that the love in the room was like it's own separate being. There was true joy that day, not just from the bride and groom, but from so many of the people there. It was a good, good day. I wish we could have more days like that day. Days when we get together with the people we love and don't see very often. Days that are not sad occasions like funerals, but good days. Happy days.
I saw her again when my great-grandmother died. My great-grandmother was on my mom's side and my aunt is on my dad's side. My parents have been married so long that their families have sort of meshed. They all know one another.
I think that is so beautiful. My children used to call all three of my grandmother's "The Grandmothers". As though they all belonged together.
Those days I spoke with my aunt as much as I could. She is always in good spirits, despite her illness. She laughed off the bad things and made excuses for the others. She smiled so many times that I remember being amazed at how well she was handling everything.
Or maybe she's just pretending.
She's always been my funny aunt. She was so fun. She was young when she had my cousins. She's still young. A mother of five and a grandmother of five. A kind, loving soul.
I imagine she's also tired. Worn out with just the business of life. I understand how she feels, to some extent, because lately? It's exhausting just going through the motions. Some days it feels almost impossible.
My dad called me last night. He hadn't heard from my aunt, his sister, in a few days. He finally was able to get ahold of her. And she had a message for me.
She had my book.
She loved my book.
Her life has not been easy lately.
My life has not been easy lately.
Her life? Much, much harder than mine.
She wanted me to know that my book had given her a lift. She was down and she needed to laugh and it made her laugh.
The reality is that I might lose my aunt. Her children might lose their mother. Her grandchildren might lose their grandma. My dad might lose his sister. The reality of that sucks so much that I can barely even type it here. I feel like, to this point, my family has been lucky. None of my parents sisters or brothers have died. None of the children in our family have died. Both of my parents are living. The people in my family who have died have mostly been older. They've had a chance to live their lives.
I don't feel like my aunt has had enough time. I want her to get better. I want her to see her grandchildren grow up.
It is such a small, small comfort that I could make her laugh.
I don't know how my dad knew I needed to hear that. That I've been so down and, yes, feeling sorry for myself. That I needed a smack in the face to bring me back to reality. To remind me that no matter what is going on in my little bubble? What's happening in other people's lives is so much harder and more painful. I don't know how he knew.
But he did.
And I'm so grateful he told me.
Sometimes I think my dad and I have more in common than I ever knew.