Best 9 Hours I've Spent All Week

Driving down here was necessary, the minute I walked into my cousin’s hospital room, I knew it was absolutely the best thing for me to drive down here to West Virginia (actually, Marietta, OH) from NJ.

My cousin’s mother and my mother were sisters, Jan and I are as close as sisters. We’ve always had a very special bond, she’s 8 years older than I, and I’ve looked up to her my entire life. In some ways I’ve felt closer to her than anyone in my family.

She’s hit a very rough spot right now. Her breast cancer has recurred and metasticized in her spine in a few places and in her thigh bone. Other things are popping up, too, and they restarted her on chemo today after a week of radiation. She’s entirely immobile because a month ago her thigh bone shattered at the point where the tumor was hiding, so she had surgery to place a rod up her leg bone.

I arrived here at 4:00 and went right to her room until 8:00 pm. I finally left because I knew she was forcing herself to stay awake because I was visiting. As I was sitting next to her bed, rubbing her sore leg, patting her hand, I had such a strong sense of deja vu. Wasn’t it just a few years ago I was doing this with my mom? With Gerry last year?

I stopped on the way back to my hotel and got 2 beers. I just drank one, I feel better, the other will just have to be put away until another day.

I guess I picked the wrong week to give up eating like an idiot.

(I could really go for a few reeses peanut butter cups or some Americone Dream Ice cream right about now…)

In some odd twist of fate, my own kids were the first born into our family since I was a baby. A 35-year dry spell of babies.

Jan, her brother, Tommy and my brother Jim were childless (until my brother and his wife adopted their son from Russia) Since so few kids have been born, there are very few folks left in the family. At this point it’s pretty much me, Jan, Tommy’s wife, Joyce and Jim’s wife, Karen.

It’s so weird, so odd, to be Jan’s last, close blood relative. Joyce has been amazing – she was at the hospital when I arrived and has been there several times a week. Joyce is feeling – and with reason – that this whole last sickness of Jan’s is pretty much entirely on her shoulders.

I’m glad to be here to relieve a bit of the pressure, I wish I could do more, but the best I can do is be HERE when I’m able. No one is at their best during chemo. Jan’s flat on her back, in pain, but she was so happy when I walked into the room that it would have been worth 90 hours of driving.

There are a lot of decisions that need to be made (some of them unpleasant and potentially a cause for friction) As I told Joyce, if I do what I MUST do as a sister-cousin, all signs point to tomorrow being a rather rough day.

But if I take the easy way out and avoid the rough subjects, it will make things a lot harder down the road. How on earth did I end up being the last “adult” standing?

Thanks so much to folks who have written with good thoughts and offers of help. If I don’t get back to you right away, please know it has a lot to do with erratic internet and not a lot of time for emailing.

And now off to write a bit about sweater shaping. Focus, Annie, focus!

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