My heart aches as I write this. One of my cousins called to tell me her sister passed away and is now with the Lord. Her death is not unexpected. It was eminent because her body was ravaged with cancer. This was her second bout with it. She had been cancer free for 20 years only to have it return with a vengeance.
She and I talked about once a month. It was during one of our calls that she shared her cancer returned. She asked me not to tell anyone, including my kids, my brother and other cousins. She was private about her health. She also did not want any pity because of her cancer.
Of course, I honored her wishes. The last time we spoke she was doing the things she loved, doing her best to enjoy the remaining time she had. She knew she was dying and chose to focus on the present, creating memories with the ones she would leave behind.
This reminds me of what the hospice doctor told me as my mom was nearing her end-of-life. Dr H. suggested the family spend time with mom, even if it meant she would be worn out, needing to rest after a fun filled day.
We did just that. Thirty-six hours before Mom passed, we had a picnic in the courtyard of the nursing home where she was spending her final days. She had one of her favorite meals of Boston Market chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, brownie, and Coca Cola. My brother and my 3 children were there. Mom laughed, enjoyed the sunshine, and enjoyed our time together.
Our excursion outside coupled with a warm day wore her out. She was ready to go back to bed. This was our last meal together and her final. This was well worth it to create a memory. Mom was very open and public that she was dying.
The way my cousin and mother faced their death has me thinking about my own mortality. I believe that as we approach deaths door and the circumstances such as cancer, extended illness or long-term disability we still have control over how we respond to them.
If I were taken over with cancer, I would share with everyone. Why? Because I know I would get support on my journey. Support would come from near and far with encouragement to fight, live and enjoy my remaining time on earth.
After I die, I want people who knew me to be able to share memories about me with joy and gladness. I want to make it easy as possible for them to accept I am gone. I want them to live the life I no longer can.