This is my family. My mom's mom is seated in the middle of the photo and her husband (my step-grandfather) is seated next to her. Then in the back row, from the left, is Husband, me, my little brother peeking out from behind me. Then my only cousin (on this side of the family), his wife, then his mom (my aunt and mom's only sister). My dad and mom are on the end on the right.
We've had a lot happen since this photo was taken in Kansas City for my grandma's 75 birthday in 2008.
The house that the picture was taken in is still there, and has been since my mom and aunt were raised in that kitchen. The booth around the kitchen table is gone (wasn't in this picture actually) but the clock is still on the wall and booms on the hour and wakes me up, since I'm not used to it when I stay there.
But the people in this picture have changed. We've now lost three of them - my dad in 2010, my grandma in 2011 and now my aunt.
Families ebb and flow - we lose parts of our family and gain others. My cousin's wife has been with us through a lot and my husband is as much a part of the family as I am. But with such a small and tight knit family, the loss of any part is felt keenly.
On Monday afternoon, around the exact time she had the stroke four years before, my dear aunt passed into the fullness of Eternal Life. The chaplain of the nursing home was there, praying with her, and read her a verse from Revelations about the New Jerusalem.
The chaplain told her, "These are your promises, Nancy..." She took another two breaths, and then was gone. It was as peaceful in the end as we had hoped it would be.Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
We grieve not for her, but for ourselves. I tell my cousin this, but it doesn't ease the pain of losing your parent. Nothing really can, except for time. I can be there for him, I can drive to Kansas City this afternoon to be with the family, and I can make arrangements for the funeral music and for the reception afterwards. Those are the things I'm good with and that's what I can do at this time.
When we were on hospice watch a few weeks ago, I was sitting in her room with my cousin and we debated which was harder - losing a parent quickly to an embolism (like I did with my dad) or watching a parent slowly fade away (like he was experiencing with his mom).
We decided that both really suck.
Thank you for all your prayers and kind words. More of the same is always appreciated. Hug your loved ones tight and tell them you care. Because that means the world to them.