There are several life changing moments that none of us want to experience. Some, we might and others we'll glide swiftly by, like rolling a seven past the hotel on Boardwalk.
My first was being cheated on and I've barely made sense of that one. And I'm not exactly sure there hasn't been permanent scarring. So, maybe she fell out of love with me and I was too dumb to realize it. I do hope she's happy now. And there are so many others out there who find that cheating is not a good relationship builder. And now I joke about it.
Scars do have a purpose, though and some people find them sexy. There's a story behind the six inch metal plate in my arm, and I guess I've got a scar to prove it. Maybe I wasn't as good at gymnastics as I was in public school. That at least got me my first morphine pump. Pretty cool.
And then. The grand finalé. Faceless, unbeatable tragedy.
I looked death in the face. Literally. My cousin, way too young to go was taken by Cancer and I went to visit her. She knew I was visiting her because she was going to die and I felt obliged. Had she not been dying, I probably never would have.
"So, Trevor, what brings you all the way out here?"
You see. Of course she never asked that. Her high school graduation picture was on her parents wall. Healthy, vibrant, happy. She weighed fifty pounds when I saw her. Fifty. My nephew, seven years old, weighs over 80. (Yes, he's cutting down on chips, at least around Uncle Trevor)
At one point my Aunt, her mother, asked the Palliative Care Nurse why she looked angry - was she in pain? It wasn't anger, said the nurse. It was fear. She was terrified. She couldn't eat, by the way, no strength to eat, and even if she did, the cancer would get take the nutrients before she could.
She was literally being eaten from the inside out. So, if there are any fantasies that cancer is a painless way to die, I might offer that it is not. Cancer has your parents wishing the Lord will take you. It is the family's feeling, and one I choose to subscribe to, that her fight to stick around wasn't for her - it was the grief she saw her death causing her family that she truly fought against. I'm not one really to put shiny melodrama on things. That was who she was.
She called her mother into her room last night, and at that point, 'calling' would be merely a gurgle. The whole family rushed in, 1 brother, 3 sisters a mom and a Dad. Words from her at this point are worth their weight in soul. And in maybe the most valiant effort one can mae, she tried to say something. And let out a sigh. And went.
It was her parent's wedding anniversary.