Friday, February 16, 2007

A Bit of Reflection
Having been back for almost a week now, I've gotten lots of questions from people. How was the trip? Was it hard to come back? Did you have a good time?

I find that I've been giving the same appropriate answers. The trip was lots of fun. It was hard to leave, but I'm happy to be back. We had a great time.

That's not entirely true. The truth is that when I think back over January, while there was lots of fun and greatness... we were also there for the deaths of two people that impacted me quite immensely.

The One
My Aunt Lori passed away the morning we were flying back to Iowa from Florida. She was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer six months ago, and they never determined the source. It was just everywhere. She took a turn on Christmas and was moved to hospice care. Dad flew down to Phoenix over New Year's weekend to see her one last time. She died two weeks later.

I can't say I was ever really close to her, but it's never easy to watch your Dad cry. I was glad we could be there to support my family. Death can never have good timing, I guess... but all the same, it was nice to be in the States and have some closure.

I was given one of her flutes, a little retro handbag of hers, and a jewelry box she had which had originally been my grandmother's. I also spent hours looking through her photo albums and learned so much about her. She was a total hippy in the truest sense. She followed bands around. She had hundred of pictures of her and her friends sitting around outside. Lovers of the earth.

I took four pictures out of the albums without telling anyone. Three were taken at a Queen concert with Freddie Mercury in all his glory. The other was of her. She was maybe 20 years old, outside. She has marijuana leaves tucked behind her ear like a flower, and she has a beautiful wide smile. It seemed to capture the aunt that I didn't really know.

The Other
A couple weeks later Mr. Johnson died. He was the father of my best friend in school. He was my English teacher in 10th grade. I spent a lot of time at their house back then, and in the later years, I would pop by their house at Christmastime when I was back in town. I danced with him at Jenn's wedding. He was just a person that has always kind of been there.

He had a brain tumor. I guess I always thought he was going to get better.

I saw Jenn a few days after Christmas when she was in town for the holidays. They came to my parents' house. She and her husband met my husband. Her siblings came too. It was fun. A couple weeks later she came back to meet with the doctors again. We had coffee. She said that she had done her grieving already... that the dad she knew was already gone. Not long after that he really was.

I cried more during that next week than I had with my aunt. I felt bad for Jenn and her siblings. I was struck with the fact that we are now to the age where it's our parents who are dying... it's not just for grandparents anymore.

But again, I was so glad we were there to be a support for Jenn, to bring food to the house, to share memories, to laugh together and to cry together. It was good.

So yeah, it was a best/worst-of-times type of trip.


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