Two weeks ago my aunt, whom I’m very close to, got in a terrible car wreck. A large truck broadsided her, and the only reason she made it to the hospital was because on off-duty fireman happened to be on the scene and began CPR almost immediately after the accident.
Once at the hospital, she was admitted in critical condition, with so many significant injuries we had a difficult time keeping track: She had broken all of her ribs on the left side, her entire blood volume had to be replaced twice, her arm was broken in several places, they had to remove her spleen and a kidney, two vertebrae in her neck were broken, her pelvis was crushed, and she had a severe brain injury. Her doctor told us she had a less than 50% chance of making it, and he would be surprised to see her make it through the night.
Amazingly enough, she did make it through the night, she was a fighter.
As the family sat in the waiting room praying, we weren’t quite sure what we were praying for. If she survived and her quality of life would be miserable, if she wouldn’t be the same mentally and would need constant assistance … we knew she would never want that. She was a very active, strong woman, and I had a conversation with her in the past where she told me that if anything happened to her, like this, she wouldn’t want us to struggle with the decision to let her go.
Yet when you love someone, it is so hard to pray for the option of losing her too — even if it was what she would have wanted.
My aunt’s son was recently married, and he desperately wanted her to live to see her grandchildren when that time came; and her daughter still young, not married yet, and she wants her mother to be there, to help her plan her wedding someday.
My aunt and I spoke almost every week for the last 15 years. She made me Barbie clothes and fur stoles when I was little, and took me to my first midnight movie when I was 9, making me feel like such a grown up. When we talked, we discussed trivial things like who we wanted to get kicked off So You Think You Can Dance and who should win American Idol.
Then there were the things we had in common. We would chat about what our latest garage sale finds were for the week and what we were both doing to update our homes. I would go with her to pick out doors and pick out tile — things I didn’t always think I had time for, but looking back I’m so glad that I did.
Our family would gather for holidays and play games, and my mom and my aunt were always so competitive, trying to take out the competition in Scatagories. My mom and my aunt have always been close too, so this was incredibly hard on her since my grandparents passed away years ago.
Each day after the accident was filled with stress, worry, and, sometimes, traces of hope. It seemed like every time the doctors fixed one problem another one arose. Last Thursday, though, the doctors told us her brain injury was so severe that she would never be the same. Her other kidney had failed also, and infection had set in.
Friday night, her family decided to take her off of life support. Surrounded by her husband, children, siblings, nieces and nephews, she passed.
Sitting and watching her gasp for breath was one of the hardest things I had ever experienced. It broke my heart. And those broken pieces crumbled further watching what her husband and children were going through … and seeing my mother so devastated.
I wish now that I had taken more time to do fun things with her. This last year, she had asked me a few times to go to some movies with her, but with my furniture business and starting my blog, I felt that I was always too busy to go do fun things I could do later.
Please learn from my mistakes my friends, the later you always take for granted isn’t always there.
My aunt came to my house about a month ago and dropped off some little ceramic dogs for my collection. She said Here is your early birthday present.
My birthday was this past Friday (the day she passed). Maybe she subconsciously knew somehow?
Thank you to all of you who have sent your sweet comments and prayers to me. I feel blessed to have you all in my life.
No matter how busy your life is, please take the time to spend with your loved ones.
Things can change in the blink of an eye.