To quote a part of my November 25, 2010 blog post:
In my generation, we have 13 cousins. At 43, I am the second oldest. The
first five of us are very close in age and grew up together.
My 41-year-old cousin Paul, the youngest of us five, has been battling colon and liver cancer for the last six months or so.
In person, via email and via Caring Bridge, he keeps us updated on his condition.
I am now 45; Paul is now 43. He is still battling color and liver cancer. From what I have heard, but not from him because he doesn't like to discuss it, he is regularly going to MD Anderson as well as getting treatment here in New Orleans.
While his mom - my Aunt Barbara - was going through the final stages of hospice, her four kids watched over her. She was staying at my cousin David's house, but passed while Paul was watching over her. (David and his wife Becki were out of town for the Easter weekend.)
Here is Paul's Caring Bridge update, posted today - three weeks to the day since his mom died:
been over two weeks since the death of my mother, and I think that I may now
have enough clarity on the event to sit down and write. I once said of my
cancer and the ensuing events, that it brought no epiphanies to my life and its
purpose. I experienced no parting of the clouds with a booming voice of
instructions or recurring dream that clearly showed me the way. I had not
expected such events, so the lack thereof brought no disappointment. What
the tragedy of my mother and my cancer ordeal has revealed is that we are all
innately prepared to deal with adversity. The choice to use this ability is
solely our own. This fact was once again confirmed by my mother spending her
last two months of life under the constant loving care of my brother and sister-in-law.
Without a moment’s hesitation they took on tasks and duties that 6 months ago
they would have flatly denied having the capacity to handle. It is this
capacity that separates us and defines our character. It seems to be a
tailored opinion that we would fail to rise to an adverse situation, but it is
my conviction that it is our nature that overrules our conditioning.
will say only a few things about the actual passing of my mother and what I
have taken from that experience. I guess my most powerful emotion would be how
natural death is. The actual moment of her passing felt so right and so
peaceful that you could feel nothing but relief. The body is an amazing machine
that wants to live and will fight so hard to do so, but there was a defining
moment around 2:00 in the morning where her death was imminent and her body
just didn’t want to let go. It was when I felt the most pain for her fight. I
just wanted it to be over. I wanted her body to let her die and free her of
this suffering. Two hours later her struggling calmed and her breathing settled
to almost normal. It was a moment I will never forget. The room went from one
of torture and anguish to stark silence. She was gone and there was such an
emotion of rightness about it all.
a families go, I could not be more proud to belong to such a group of people.
Aunts, Uncles, cousins and friends all took part in the last two months of my
mom’s life. Mom got to see how much she was loved and experienced how she affected
so many. We celebrated her life with a crawfish boil and blaring Cajun music.
We all cried a little but laughing is so much easier. There are times when I
pass by her number on my phone and wish that she would have left a greeting
that I could listen too but Mom was not the most technically gifted person in
the world, and I’ll just have to settle for the number. I miss the little
things most and those are the hardest because they can’t be anticipated. They
pop-up on me like a shiver and demand a moment of reflection. She was the
only Mom I will ever have, and I was lucky enough to tell her so.
During our Memorial Crawfish Boil, many members of our family stood up to speak about Barbara. Here is Paul's contribution...
Barbara is gone but not forgotten. Let's now work toward that same sentence not be about Paul...