Jul 18, 2006

my great aunt Ve has cancer. it is in her lungs, and it is also in her breasts. she's been sick for about a year, in and out of the hospital, in and out of chemo, in constant discomfort and fear. recently her well trusted doctor discontinued her chemo and admitted her, indefinitely, to the hospital so that she may have 24 hour care. this greatly displeases her, but her kidneys are failing. she is uncomfortable and frightened. she is my father's mother's sister, who we've always adopted as our second grandma.

my paternal grandmother had three children, two boys and a girl. her eldest son (my father) had two children, remarried and adopted two daughters. my aunt had two daughters, one of which had one son recently, and the other of which recently birthed the second daughter of three children. my uncle, my grandmother's youngest son, married late and adopted his wife's daughter. my aunt Ve is a widow with no children. i get the feeling that aunt Ve always felt pitifuly adopted by us, by her younger sister's family. she often spent many holidays alone, of her own free will.

she is a feisty woman, decisive, stubborn, but also genuine and generous. today she is lying in a hospital bed in austin with friends surrounding her, the telephone ringing off the hook from family members in california, virginia, new jersey, florida..but not chicago. i haven't called. i don't call because i don't know what to say to this woman. this woman who has been nothing but kind to me, who has had a falling out at some point with everyone in the family except me, who has always stuck up for me and loved me like her own grandchild. i've sent flowers and cards and gifts, but i haven't called. i don't feel that i can convincingly convey the feelings of pain and hope and sadness and love that i have for her over the telephone, though i know that the calls cheer her up. i'd rather fly out and tell her in person, though i know i'd end up crying at her bedside. but i've been told not to come, i can't do much there. i have never had to give comfort to someone who is dying and i have no clue how to handle it. i have little comfort for myself, how can i give it to Ve? i feel like the worst person for letting time pass, when she has so little of it left. this woman who i love. but i just can't and it feels so awful.

i'm not writing this for pity's sake. i dont' deserve any. i'm writing to give homage to a strong and wonderfully alive woman who does not have long to live. i'm also selfishly writing this to give myself comfort. i love my aunt Ve with all of my heart, and even though i can't call, i think of her always. i hope she knows, i hope she reads my words in the cards that i send. i hope she knows that i love her. i love you, aunt Ve.

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