Over the years my children have seen a lot of death, have been to one too many funerals, spoken at one too many funerals, and now again, someone close to them is dying.
We were extremely close to my mother’s side of the family. There was my grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Teddie, we watched her die in hospital from breast cancer. I would visit her daily and read to her, I brought my kids to see her frequently, the hospital setting never scared them because she was there. Next was the little girl in grade six, she died unexpectedly during an operation, all my children were friends with her. The teenage boy, who was very young at the time, wasn’t sure if he wanted to walk up to the casket in the funeral home. I told him that was quite okay because she would know he was there with his prayers. As it turned out, all my kids went up to the open casket to say a few words, I found it hard watching them. My mother then became ill, undiagnosed stage 4 heart disease, they gave her a year to live. Mom was in and out of hospital, in a coma for months, resuscitated, sepsis, meningitis, were all the various things she dealt with while in coma. At one point, my grandmother mistakenly told us my mother had died.
I found my eldest hiding in her room crying – she would never cry at a funeral again, she was twelve at the time and exceptionally close to my mother. Mom came out of the hospital and was with us for another nine months or so. The last time she went into hospital was very difficult, I was the last one to hear her speak and those words haunt me – she would not see her first-born grandchild, my eldest, walk down the aisle. Mom died just before the eldest graduated from grade eight. A year later, my grandmother, who I loved far more than words could ever express left us. I cried, cried, and cried. I didn’t know there were so many tears in me. Ten months later, I had been trying all day to reach my uncle, my mother’s brother who we had always spent Thanksgiving with, but that year we were going camping, only to find out he had passed away unexpectedly. There, at a rest stop, all five of us, my husband, three kids, and I cried. We continued to the campsite, not knowing what else to do. That night, while standing around the campfire, instead of waiting for Thanksgiving day to arrive, we ate the two pumpkin pies I had made. We went home early, another funeral to go to. Not much later, my father became ill, liver cancer. He lived out the last six months of his life with us. The eldest was now in grade twelve, dad missed her graduation. All three kids, the eldest, middle child in grade ten, and the teenage boy in grade nine were able to say goodbye to their grandfather at the hospital, he died the next day. Two years ago, my dad’s mom passed away, she was ninety-six, she had had a long life.
Present day, another loved one is terminally ill, and to be honest I don’t know if my kids can handle another death. Even though they are older, death is not easy and they have seen a lot of death.