I found out that my sister-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer on Thursday (August 4th, 2016).  No one, yet, knows what type of cancer Lily has, but the cancer is aggressive and has been found in her lung, kidney, and femur. I was taken aback by the news. I heard the news only by accident when I bumped into her brother, my ex, at the grocery store. Apparently, the family only found out a couple of days ago. I immediately told my children since she is their auntie.

In Deep Thought

As you can imagine, learning about the cancer diagnosis, my mind has gone into deep thought.  I am still getting work done, but in the not so far distance, I’m thinking about her. I think about a life that may be cut short because of a growth that is now housing her body. It doesn’t sound good.

Our Visit

My son and I went to visit Lily on Sunday.  It was a pleasant visit. I got to see one of her brothers and his wife. It was nice to see old familiar faces and talk as though time in-between our last visit was only yesterday. They left and the three of us were there to chat. Really, we sat and listened. I didn’t know what to say. Lily told us she visited her Doctor several times during the course the a year, complaining about the same symptoms, only for him to say that it was a lingering cold.  She spoke of her frustrations. She said that she wasn’t going to do chemotherapy. As she was talking, expressing her grievances and fears, I started to think about why I waited so long to visit.  I see her only once a year.  How could that be good enough? The guilt was setting in.

Instilling Value

I tell my children that life will always be busy, but we all need to take responsibility to see each other. You never know when someone is going to die, such as with cancer. Being a mother, I am still the one that initiates most of our scheduled time together, but that doesn’t bother me. Scheduling time with my 3 sons is a responsibility that I will undertake with love because I want to instill these values – love and connection – into them. I feel doing this – spending quality time together – creates our special bond. However, Lily was just as special. Why did I use the busyness mentality to avoid her.

Our Special Days Together

When the children were small, I used to take each one of them out of school individually so that we could have “our special day together.” We’d go for breakfast or lunch, talk, and just get to know each other. Why not. What were they going to miss in school that I couldn’t give them at such a young age? I did this up until they were in grade 4 or 5, maybe longer. Being a single mom for some time, life was always busy. This was my way to be with my children and get to know them one-on-one. Today, we see each other regularly, always connecting and chatting about life, their desires, and goals. I think it worked.

Excuses Only Lead to Regret

But with Lily, why did I wait so long to see her, someone that I loved very much, and who accepted me into her family as though I was her sister? Now she has cancer and here I am filled with regret. No doubt, I was busy raising children, but it goes beyond our busy lifestyles. Thoughts ruminate and emotions overwhelm us which then dictates our choices. We are not making decisions from a love or present perspective. We make decisions from our immediate mental and emotional state.

The Mind Conjuring Up Stuff

I was together with Lily’s brother for at least a decade. When our relationship ended, I found myself questioning my relationship with her as well as the rest of the family when I moved on with my life. It wasn’t an easy end. What relationship ever is? She and I always had a very close bond. Initially, the rest of the family didn’t accept me. Lily seemed like the alpha of the tribe, always keeping the connections open and responsive. With her persistence, everyone eventually opened up to me.

Not Recognizing Love

When I went to visit her on Sunday, I picked up on her heart-felt care and concern for me by what she keeps around her home.  23 years ago, I made her a pink heart-shaped wreath arranged with moss, ribbons and flowers. This wreath was, literally, falling apart, but she kept it hung on her door welcoming visitors. I asked her if I could make her another wreath because I had seen a safety pin holding some of the moss in place. She refused, shaking her head saying “no way!”

Realizing Love

It took me 23 years to receive her love, and it was only truly after her cancer diagnosis! I came to realize that by removing the wreath, she removed the memories. She didn’t want that. She had special memories connected to the wreath. The wreath had become so unsightly, but to her, it was only love. Sometimes I wonder if I could see beyond the unsightliness of things in my life, as she does?

Learning

Are my fears that important that I allow them to dictate my choices? Simply stated, that’s really what it comes down. My thoughts badgering in my head wondering what others may think. With this habit, I allow time to pass as though life will never end. What I finally realized is that Lily really did and does care about me; that she always wanted me in her life.

Lily died the morning of August 27th, 2016.

 

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