Goodbye, Forever. Part 1

Hanging out with Dad and Tante Lucy
My aunt is dying. Cancer. Seems to be the number one taker of lives among my friends and family lately. Tante Lucy is 84, the end of days not abnormal for someone her age. The problem is, I have no idea how to say, “goodbye”.

When my grandparents passed away, it was just time. Grandpa and Grandma both declined mentally, so when they left a sense of peace came over all of us. With Opa and Oma, old age took them suddenly and without pain. I’ve argued with God about taking friends my own age away with cancer. I don’t know if I will ever understand. But even then, I’ve seen their bodies deteriorate and when they went to be with Jesus, I knew they finally had relief.

Now I’m in a brand new situation. My tante, who has been through hell – more hell than I can conjure in my imagination – and survived, is now fighting the one battle she will not win. She’s asked to see us all before she goes. Seeing her is the easy part. She calls me her “Sunshine”. (I know. I’m baffled as well. At least I will go down in history as someone’s sunshine.) The question is: when I fly back home on Wednesday, how will I say farewell knowing I will never see her on this earth again?

The expectation is too much to endure.

I’ve only been here one day and I won’t want to leave. I want to stay as long as she does. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but she’s always been in my life. What will I do when she’s not?

Who is that cute kid?
In the last week, I’ve told my friends I wished Tante Lucy would have passed peacefully in her sleep. Then we wouldn’t have to “say goodbye”. We would have cried, said we’re happy she’s with Jesus, and been thankful for the great times we shared together. 

Now, I’m so glad my wish wasn’t granted. Selfishly, I cherish the moments I sit by her bedside listening to her thick German accent, the one she and my Oma always kept here in America. My hand wants to stay permanently in hers, I hate letting go even for a moment. My cousins, they’ll be with her until the end. My brother lives close enough to make a drive when he needs to and my sister is arranging her own time to visit. My dad will leave soon and he will kiss his oldest sister for the last time.

Me? I don’t know what will happen yet. And I try to busy my brain so I don’t have to think. But just like Grover in  “The Monster at the End of This Book”, the inevitable will show up on the last page and I’ll need to say auf Wiedersehen to my Tante Lucy one last time.

You’ll notice the title of the post reads, “part 1”. It’s because this story isn’t over.

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