My aunt is dying of cancer.
The doctors gave her one to two weeks. She’s losing strength and will die any day.
I saw her a month ago, in the hospital. Her spirit and fight remained strong.
At the time it was just another ICU stint for her, like all the other times she had spent a few days in the hospital.
Four years ago Kathy was diagnosed with stage four cancer. She was fifty-five years old. She fought it into remission enough to resume her teaching position. Unfortunately, the cancer continued to persist and her weakened body forced her to retire from a job she loved; from her life’s calling.
She’s been in and out of the hospital for various ailments, all cancer or cancer treatment related. Each time we feared it was the end, but each time Kathy rose to conquer her enemy. She did one final time a month ago.
That was her last, short-lived victory. She returned to the hospital a week ago, where the doctors pronounced the nearing end. She was moved to her son’s house yesterday, to live out what few days remained with her family.
She has accepted her fate and is ready for the end of this life. Her hope isn’t in a miraculous recovery but in meeting her Savior. And her sister. My mom passed away eight years ago. They will be reunited soon.
Kathy is only nine years older than me. We took family vacations together and I’ve spent thousands of miles in a car with her.
She lived with my mom, sister, and I for three years when I was a teenager and she was at her first teaching job. I helped her grade papers, watched her and her husband court before she got married and moved out.
The only high school activity of mine Mom ever missed was to be with Kathy when she gave birth to her firstborn. That was also the only birthday of mine she ever missed.
One of my fondest memories is of Kathy, my mom, and their sister Rhonda (there are eight siblings in all). They would sit on the living room floor, eat popcorn, peanut M&Ms, and drink Pepsi while writing stories together. They called themselves the Roth Writers (Roth was their maiden name) and mailed their stories to publishers and television scripts to the Osmonds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen three people have as much fun as they did.
This may be morbid, but her impending death makes me feel close to Mom. Any day now Kathy will be with her, which Makes Mom seem like she’s almost within reach. I suppose I am even a little jealous of Kathy. I long for the connection to my mom broken eight years ago. With Kathy, I’m so, so close.
I fought the urge today to drive to Kansas City to ask my aunt to tell Mom I said ‘hi’. I chose to let her children have these last days with her in peace without me barging in to demand Kathy be my personal messenger. I don’t know that it’s possible to send messages in that manner, but it might be. What I do know is that Kathy will give Mom a full report on her grandkids. That will make Mom smile. And that’s enough for me.
Although she’s dying much too young, my Aunt Kathy got a rare gift. She realized a year ago her time was short and she lived her final her year to it’s fullest and without regret. Seeing her fight against cancer and her approaching death I have recognized my Aunt Kathy is the strongest person I’ve ever known.
I hope one day my death touches someone’s life the way Kathy’s has touched mine.