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Thursday, March 25, 2010
Today I had to do one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I went to visit my sister. And it could very well have been my last visit. I pretended to promise myself that I wouldn't cry, but I knew better. Just the mere thought of going over there has put me on the verge of tears all week long. I tried to be brave when I walked into her room, and I think I mumbled a few sentences of small talk before I felt my throat begin to constrict. All I could do was look at her and ask her..."do you really think it is time to go?" Bless her soul, she just nodded her head and said "yes, I do." We shared a very sweet time together, talking, sharing, and comforting each other. As I expected, her thoughts and concerns lie with how her loved ones are hurting, and how she hates it so bad to know what they will go through. I told her that nothing will ever be the same without her and I can't even stand to think about it, but we know that God's grace will carry us through the grief. I massaged her back, then rubbed some lotion on her soft skin. It was very difficult, a very sad time, but a time that I will always treasure. I did remind her that "it ain't over til it's over", but we also agreed that if God is going to take her from us, that we hope there won't be lingering through a time of suffering. She was first diagnosed seven years ago, and we talked about how blessed we were to have been given seven more years, and that for most of those years, she was able to travel and enjoy life, and watch her grandchildren grow.
Between labored breaths, she told me about a conversation she had last week with her oncologist. After he told her that it was time for hospice, and as her appointment came to an end, she told him that she hated leaving her grandkids. She said he leaned into her with a hug and told her to remember that she was not leaving them, that it is because of her that they are here, and that she will always live on in them. She was so touched by his compassion, and I believe that his words gave her comfort. The circle of life.
I first told her that I wasn't going to say goodbye. But as we talked, I realized that it was most likely the last time that we would have the opportunity to talk alone, even if I am able to go back and see her again. It is so hard to say the things that we want to say. It is incredibly painful to watch a loved one slowly slip away. But in a way, it is a blessing to be able to say what's in your heart as opposed to losing someone suddenly when we are not granted the time to say what we wish we had said. Delores and I have always been straight shooters with each other, so I told her that I wasn't sure if I would be back over to see her. She told me it was all right if I didn't come back. I told her that she had been a blessing in my life for many years, and that I admire the grace and dignity with which she has fought. And that her life is a testimony to so many people. I am so thankful that God gave us the strength to sit and talk, saying the difficult things that were said. Just before I left, I told her that if I don't see her at home, then I'll see her soon in a place where we'll live forever. I kissed her, told her that I love her, and walked quietly from her room.