I had barely settled in here at the Florida house…been grocery shopping, been to the library to get a couple of books, got the car uncovered and filled up with gas. We enjoyed a simple dinner at home, watching some of the things recorded on our TiVo. I had cleaned up the kitchen, taken a quick walk around the neighborhood (hello favorite pond, and snowy egrets) and had just poured a glass of Chardonnay in expectation of last night’s new episode of Glee.
Then the phone rang.
“I hate like hell to tell you this,” my mother said when I answered. “But Aunt L.’s in the hospital.” This is my recently widowed aunt, the left behind member of the couple who were like second parents to me.
“Dear God, what now?” I asked.
“She was in terrible pain in her abdomen all day, and nauseous,” my mother continued, ” so her friend took her into emergency. They’re doing an MRI to see what’s going on.
At 11:00, I fell exhausted into bed. We had been up since 4:30 a.m., and my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer. This morning, at 7:30, the phone rings again.
“It’s not good,” my mother tells me. “They found numerous masses, and think they could be cancerous.” My aunt’s history of colon cancer four years ago certainly makes this a likely conclusion.
I immediately start searching for a flight home, and am lucky enough to get the last seat on a Northwest flight leaving at 1:00 pm. So within the next 30 minutes, my dear husband will be driving me to the airport.
There is definitely a surreal quality to this…exactly three months ago yesterday, on another Wednesday evening, my uncle fell and fractured his hip. There followed five days of waiting, wondering, worrying…and by Monday of the following week, he was gone.
“I’m ready to go be with Tex,” she said to me this morning when I talked to her. “You know I’m ready to see the Lord.”
Indeed, she’s been telling me that a lot in the last three months. And I wonder if there does come a time when you feel ready to relinquish the hold on life the rest of us clutch so frantically. If most everyone you love is gone, if your life no longer resembles any of the hopes or dreams you had for it, if your faith in the hereafter is so strong that Heaven beckons like a soft bed after a long hard day.
This morning the doctors say that these masses may not be cancer…that for sure her gall bladder is leaking, her pancreas is inflamed. More tests are in order, they tell us. Endoscopy, CT scans. Surgery, perhaps tomorrow.
So, here I go home.
And here we go again.