One Year Later

One year.

It might seem like a long time for some, but for me, one year ago still seems to feel like it was yesterday.

I’ve written about what my family has endured during the last year for a friend’s campaign page here, so I’ll share the abbreviated version here now.

In April 2013, my dad’s older brother, Louie, was told by doctors that his liver cancer had spread and that he had six more months to live. In June 2013, my dad’s younger sister, Sandy, and caregiver for my Uncle Louie, wasn’t feeling well and went to the ER where she was told she had Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. They both fought hard. On December 25, 2013 my Aunt Sandy passed away and ten days later on January 3, 2014, my Uncle Louie passed away as well.

One year ago this week, my sister and I traveled to California, which ended up being the last time that I would see either of them. It feels just like yesterday. I still think back to that short trip and remember those days fondly, rather than view them in sadness. While we were there, my sister and Auntie Margaret were busy taking care of my Uncle Louie, who ended up being admitted to the hospital during the trip. Because the rental car was in my sister’s name and with me being under 25 years old, I wasn’t able to drive anywhere due to insurance related things. So my days were spent at my Aunt’s house helping to make her breakfast, bring her her medicines, fix lunch, make her tea, sit with her while she watched Long Island Medium, and anything else she needed. Maybe that sounds boring to some, but those are some precious memories that I will always carry with me for the rest of my life.

To this day, when we make tostadas here, I am whisked back to my Aunt’s kitchen where I made her tostadas for lunch during our stay.

Christmas 1997 in California

My Uncle Louie was a one of a kind person. Most often, he was a loose cannon and we were never quite sure what would come out of his mouth next. He and my Dad didn’t have the best relationship growing up, but it was truly overwhelming to watch them reconnect during the last eight months of his life and to see them as brothers. My uncle was truly a caring person, who bravely served in Vietnam twice during the Vietnam War. Though the majority of my visit was spent with my Aunt at her house, I don’t think I could ever forget the last moments I spent with my Uncle.

He had been admitted to the VA because of his elevated ammonia levels, related to his liver, and mentally he was confused and a little disoriented. I remember getting a call from my mom and stepping out into the hallway and suddenly becoming overwhelmed by my surroundings and the reality of everything going on around me. But what sticks out to me, is the moment just before we walked out of the room to leave and I told my Uncle not to run off on us (he had wandered out into the hallway, confused, not long after we arrived) and although he was in pain, my uncle cracked a smile.

My mom has always told me that since I was a child, if there was ever a serious moment going on, I was always the one to crack a joke or do something silly to lighten the mood. I love to laugh and especially to make others laugh so I love that this was my last vision/memory of my Uncle.

It doesn’t even seem right that it’s been a whole year since I’ve seen them, but I’m surrounded constantly by their presence and our memories. I carry them with me every day.

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear)”

– e.e cummings

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