Yesterday, less than five minutes after I got out of bed, my phone rang. It was a call I had, on one hand, been expecting for some time, and on the other, thought would never come: my aunt had died overnight.
Like my dad, Anne (his younger sister) had multiple sclerosis, but she suffered from it very differently. Her diagnosis came about 10 years after his, but her decline was both faster and more dramatic, culminating about three years ago with the first signs of dementia as the disease attacked her brain. We were all thunderstruck; we had literally no idea that MS could do that. It was devastating news.
Anne was, as they say, a character. Smart, funny, and quick-witted, she had as strong a personality as they come, and watching it disappear was heartbreaking. Through it all, she maintained her fighting spirit — even to the point of getting kicked out of hospice as many times as she entered it because she knew better than all the doctors that she wasn’t ready to go yet. Yesterday, however, she was, and though I’ve been getting used to missing her for three years now, it’s still tremendously sad.
Really, there is so much more I want to say — about who Anne was and what she meant to me — but I just can’t find the words. She was, oftentimes, a second mother to me, and losing that is difficult, even with a long, slow goodbye.