A few weeks ago I found out that my cousin was very sick. We are the same age (which is to say pretty young…ahem), so it was shocking to find out that cancer had been ravaging her body and taking a silent toll. Within a very short time, we went from being ready to help her with her fight to realizing that there wasn’t a fight to be had.
This afternoon I went to say goodbye. I parked my car and took a long, heavy-footed walk through the hospital; the kind that makes you feel like the corridor is shrinking around you and all the people you pass are going about business that has no place being had when someone you love is dying.
Her ICU room was full of friends and family and we took turns stroking her hands and holding cold washcloths to her hot skin. We laughed, we told stories about her 80s hair, we cried and prayed. I looked on while my aunt told her it was okay to go.
I watched her husband take her face in his hands and kiss her forehead. Today is their 9th wedding anniversary and he made sure her wedding rings were in a bag, tucked under her hand; too swollen, now, to wear them.
Although my heart is heavy and my mind is fuzzy, I am coherent enough to realize that I was given a gift tonight. It was a privilege to be there in that room with so much love and be with her before she leaves this earth. You know how everyone always says that life is precious? It is. When you see it at its last, it’s like a big, neon, “LIFE IS PRECIOUS” sign in front of your face.
Because you aren’t likely at someone’s bedside, I am flipping on the neon sign for you. Hug your loved ones, tell your friends you love them, don’t put off anything.