I'd discovered there was a need for fresh fruit from the market so trudge along as I might, still trying to recover from a cold, I was on my way. It was 7:34a.m. My cell rings with the fondly familiar ring of fresh requests from clients old and new-um...not this morning. Those calls would have to wait. Instead another voice I knew had a tone of somber I had dreaded for four years. A call with the essence of morning dew tempered with the sting of reality, an unkind reminder that life so precious can be gone in an instant. And there it was. My cousin, though ninety-three years young had been just fine the week before, please, a couple of days ago. Battling Dementia, no longer audible but the sharp personality was still there in her expressions.
I remember seeing her two days before and asking her how she was feeling. We had a special way of communicating. She responded on request which made me feel better because at least she was still able to know who I was. Some days were better than others. Dementia is a beast and I champion anyone coping with its relentless grip on the human body and brain, and for the outstanding caregivers out there, and there are a few-I thank you. On this morning something was off, she had complications from contracting MRSA and within twenty-four hours my Emmy was gone.
Memories flooded my core like an overworked circuit board as I tried keeping it together. I just saw her not thirty hours before. The words. There are none then there are few. A sentence of brevity, impacting, hurtful, devastating. "Emma simply stopped breathing". Knowing it would be difficult but honoring her wishes, she had a DNR in place and I got it. If her condition had worsened and at her age, she was not one for prolonging the inevitable. This knowledge didn't lessen the pain but allowed me to continue honoring her at end of life as I did when she was able-bodied.
Arriving at the nursing home was surreal. Four years of overseeing her life as if it were my own. Checking with staff, nurses, doctors even when I traveled. I sat with her on this morning wishing I could do it all over again. She was never a burden, she was my cousin. Emma King was gone.
Feelings of sadness came and went. Emotions seesawing on a ride that I never asked to get on. Now I had an all-day pass. I grieved, it was necessary otherwise there was no moving forward. I could feel my neck tense every time I had to let someone know what happened, finalizing arrangements and making a collage. I know she would have loved that. I could have drowned in my feelings making it all about me and for a moment I did. An incredible sense of life came over me too. I took in deeper breaths happy for the air. Talked with friends, made lunch dates and took a few days off from the business to rest and geared up for Em's memorial service last Saturday. Curling up into a ball was not something I wanted to do, but I was deeply saddened and grieved which is natural considering the circumstances. Work it out. Cry it out. Live it out.
Life goes on after such gut-wrenching pain. From me to you I want you to know that you can work through your grief. You can decide to put one foot in front of the other and you can decide to live. Is it easy? N0. Is it worth it? Is it plain and simple-don't believe it. Every single second of it is worth living for though. Choose a quality life. Make simple choices to enhance your mind and body. The first step is taking a deep breath. That is what I continue to do. This is what my ninety-three year old cousin did and so can you.
When you climb the mountain, look at the view and not the drop or you'll miss the jewels in the peaks.
Here's to the journey.
Until next time~