Monday, April 29, 2013

Memories to Last a Lifetime

It's quarter after one on a work night and I just got home. My babies will wake up in 5 hours and I will be on my feet, taking care of them, then going to work, then taking care of them again before I will be able to sleep again. I will be exhausted. And I have no regrets. Tonight was a good night. I watched Les Miserables on video with two of my sisters. Nothing special. Unless you consider the context. Three and a half years ago my sister was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Terminal. Eight months ago we went to Dallas and brought her home. In the fall we heard they ere making a movie of Les Mis and we counted down until the day it opened in the theaters. But then we never quite made it out to see it. And getting out got harder for my sister. So we decided we would rent it when it came to Red Box. Ten days ago my sister was hospitalized and the doctors said there was nothing more they could do to treat. It was time for comfort. We started hospice. The next day I bought Les Mis. It wouldn't be in Red Box for three more weeks. Every day for the last nine days we have meant to watch it. But she sleeps a lot. And it is hard to plan a time. Something weird happened today and she rallied. She was awake for 12 straight hours. I visited her and then left to put my kids to bed, promising I would come back after then were asleep and we could watch it. I was sure she would be asleep when I returned but to my amazement she was still awake. And ready to watch. It was even sweeter because my other sister was visiting from out of town. So we started the movie thinking we would watch part of it and finish the rest later. Not only did we finish the entire movie, but we talked and cried and laughed through it all. Amazing. It was a good day.

As I drove away I remembered another good day. It was ten years ago. My family had gathered together for the holiday (I can't remember for sure which one) and it was the last day of the festivities. The next day people would travel home or return to work. My brother-in-law would ship out to Iraq, a war zone at the time, a week later. As the night came to a close his wife started crying, daunted by what lay ahead. As good sisters, we all joined in. We cried and hugged and laughed about crying. And then it was time to go. And someone suggested playing a game. One by one we declined the offer; it was late, we had flights and travel time and work in the morning and we all needed our rest. And then one person offered a counter response: It's only a three hour drive......... And then one by one we joined in; I can sleep after I work; I'm going to war in a week, seize the moment; I'll sleep on the flight. The mood lifted and we played a game. And we laughed. A lot. There was a crock pot full of little smokies and we ate them all. And laughed and laughed. We lived in the moment. Who knew what the future would bring. We were sick about sending one of us to war. And even without the cloud of possible death hanging over us we never knew when we would see each other again. But for that moment we were together. And we were happy. And life was good. I remember as I left the house that night I turned around and looked at the house and took it all in. Something special had happened there. A moment of peace had been granted. And we were happy.

Tonight, once again, death loomed over us. This time it wasn't the possibility of it, but the certainty of it. We have been crying for days. Talking about funerals and burials and obituaries. So many times in the last 10 days I have had to take a deep breath and accept that it was real, because how could it be real? Tonight, once again, like ten years before, a gift was given. A moment. Of love and togetherness. I left the house with a smile on my face. The same house I left ten years ago in much the same way. A moment of peace in an oasis of pain and sorrow. I don't want to think about it too much, about the circumstances that made an ordinary good day feel extraordinary, because for the past 10 days I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I'm grateful for one more drop of good memories in a lifetime of good memories. I guess the drops at the end seem to ripple more when you are anticipating the stillness to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment