First of all, I want to thank all my friends that were supportive, whether in comments here or on Twitter, it’s amazing how many people are struggling thru the same feelings. Just knowing you aren’t alone, in itself, is a big relief.

My mom called last nite & mentioned 2 of my cousins called her cuz they left me messages, but haven’t heard back. They want to get together Dec. 26 & I wasn’t sure if I could handle it as the anxiety hits without warning. Then I started thinking about my cousins & my mom, and the tears started falling. I told her about my anxiety & how late at night I worry about losing her or other loved ones. My mom has lived thru what I’m afraid to, yet she’s not only survived, she’s grown stronger. And she told me I’m tough, she’s right, I am… I just don’t want to have to be tough.

As I’ve shared before. I consider Nov./Dec. to be “the dying season.” Most of our family that has died, has died in these 2 months. Between my mom, myself, my cousin Lucy & other cousin, Lisa, I’ve suffered the least. Lisa is the daughter of my cousin, Lola, who was Lucy’s sister-both my cousins, my mom’s sister’s daughters. I know I’ve written many times about Lola, although there were 15 years between us, she was my closest cousin-we were 2 peas in a pod in the way we thought. Our sisters, Lucy & my sis think alike, but much differently than Lola & I.

Lola died on Dec. 27, 2007. Her mom, my mom’s sister, died on Dec. 3, 2005. Both of my uncles- my mom’s brothers, also died in December- one on the 24th. My Grandma died on Jan. 1, 1954 (4 years before I was born) of brain cancer. How my mom manages during the holidays is baffling, she doesn’t bring up all the deaths, none of us really do…but she’s basically lost her mom & all siblings during the holidays. My dad died on Nov. 8, 1993, and Lucy’s husband died on Nov. 9, 2010. Recently, my sister-in-law’s sister died on Nov. 21 of leukemia, she was my age- 54.

Lucy only has 1 brother left (not counting her own children, etc.) and Lisa lost her mom & Grandma within a few years of each other. I helped take care of my Auntie when she was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, until the day she passed away. With Lola, I didn’t, and that is something I will always regret. Granted, my mom had contracted MRSA & I was busy taking care of her, but not being there for Lola is something that weighs so heavy on my heart. Part of me thinks that’s how she wanted it~ she’d always watched out for me…we shared similar life experiences, being the youngest in our families, we even shared the same Godfather. What I think about how she felt is irrelevant; she was surrounded by loved ones & very well cared for until she passed.

I’m so hung up about her though. I never told her good-bye, even though I’ve talked to her a multitude of times, since her passing- there was no closure. I let her down, I let Lisa & Lucy down – I let myself down. So many times I could have sat by her side & just talked, listened, or said nothing at all…just held her hand, but I didn’t. And I miss her so dearly, so tremendously – she fought cancer with all her might, she didn’t want to go, and I didn’t want her to go. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was in denial of her dying, while the rest were dealing with her on a daily basis, I was busy in denial because she’d told me she would be fine & I hung on to those words.

We’re lucky to find friends that we feel we’ve known all our life. Lola? I actually knew her all of my life & we “got” each other. She was that 1 of a kind person except I was fortunate enough that she was also a relative & she knew absolutely everything about me, and still loved me. And it’s on that note, I’ve decided to call both of my cousins & let them know I’d love to get together with them on the 26th. Yes, it may be emotional for me, but if they can do it when they’ve lost SO many, I certainly can. This is a time of year when family, especially this part of my family, should be seeing each other & sharing our love for each other.

I may have anxiety; I may not. But one thing I know that I certainly don’t want to have is regrets like those regarding Lola. And the very least I can do is spend time with her sister & her daughter; I know she’d be smiling down on us.

2 thoughts on “12/23/12

  1. Jane, thanks for stopping by my blog. From the conclusion to your piece, it sounds like you’ve really got your stuff together but you had me worried as I read through it. With me, if I can step black, i realize a lot of the anxiety is created in my head.

  2. Jane how very brave and loving for you to share your story of loved ones lost during the holidays. It is no wonder you have been feeling such anxiety, it would be impossible not to because of the circumstances. I mean it is not like only one or two family members died but a number of very special and important close family members died. If that happened to me, I don’t think I would ever look forward to embracing the holidays.

    I know your pain in losing Lola. I lost my best friend soon after college at a time when she was way too young to die. I knew she was sick and given a terminal prognosis but I had to admire the gusto she had for life. She actually shortened her life span by choosing to live out the time she had left being happy and living life rather than by following all the rules and maybe getting a few more months…..but at what cost.

    I too was in denial and it was hard to believe she was dying when I was always getting postcards as she spent her last months traveling all over and living life to the fullest. When it got near the end her Mom called me and I took off to go to her. I felt bad for all the time I hadn’t spent with her but was grateful to be there when I felt she needed me. The doctors and nurses thought we were strange because they had to put in a tracheotomy and we were so close that I could read her mind just by looking into her eyes. The two of us had had a wild time in college and some of the antics we did in the hospital probably made people question our sanity.

    I took off for home after a few days with plans to request a leave of absence to come back and stay with my friend for however long she had left….and I thought that it would still be months away. My girl, knew my pain and decided to depart this earth while I was gone for those few days. When I got the call I was just so beside myself with grief and guilt. I remember she had an all night wake and I sat in the church the entire time and just bawled my eyes out. In the morning this woman I had never met came up to me and hugged me…she told me how much it hurt to see me grieve and how clearly I must have loved my friend. Then it hit me, I had nothing to feel guilty about as I realized that Karen knew I loved her and knew that I would never forget her. I understood that it would have been too hard on both of us to be together when she died. Karen must have understood that and that is why I believe she left this earth before I could get back.

    I know Lola also knows how much you loved her. And as you were two peas in a pod, I think she too would have felt more pain to share the end with you. Rather she wanted you to remember all those moments you had being friends and family and not to focus on the memories from the end. And you were where you needed to be, taking care of your Mom has always been your special gift.

    So it is okay to grieve the loss of Lola and other family members, it is okay to be anxious during this time of year for fear of history repeating itself once again. But do not feel guilty, that is the one thing that would hurt Lola as you wouldn’t want her to feel guilty if the situation were reversed. Rather think about all those special times you had with Lola and resolve to live your life one day at a time and to the fullest and best that you can as a tribute. What helped me most in the days, weeks, months and years following Karen’s death was that I needed to find some sense in her death. If there was no lesson to be learned I just could not bear it. That is when I understood that the lesson she left me in dying was to understand how precious life is and to try to live each day as if it was my last, to live life so that I would have no regrets. That is how my friend chose to spend the last 18 months of her life. I know she is in a better place and she still looks out for me…and I still talk to her when I am in pain and I need to talk with someone who “gets” me.

    So I am glad you decided to spend the time with Lola’s family, it is in spending time with her family that you can remember the good memories, when you can talk about her and the pain is not as severe, sort of a bitter sweet. You will never forget her and she remains in your heart and thoughts forever. She is your guardian angel and she watches out for you for the rest of time.

    Blessings on the New Year my friend, may your heart be filled with peace, love and serenity. {{{♥hugs♥}}}.

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