Friday, June 7, 2013

Remembering my cousin

My first cousin died this morning. He suffered from a brain tumor for years, and the quality of his life has really been minimal for the last six years, with the last six months being especially bad.  I am glad that he no longer is hovering between life and death.  It was time for him to die because he was not going to be cured.

I feel so much relief that his ordeal is over. I have been anticipating this call for months.  When I talked with his wife, she seemed to be at peace and handling his death calmly.  But I know that her life has just shifted in a monumental way.  Care taking for him all these years and now not having that purpose must be an abrupt change, compounded by her grief and the loss of a man she loved so much.

Although there isn't going to be a memorial service right away, my cousin's wife asked that we remember him in our own way.  So this afternoon,  I went to the garden and thought about the good times that we spent as kids.  We would often hide in the rows of pole beans, chasing each other across the planted field that separated our houses. And that would cause us to get in a lot of trouble with my father who treasured his tomatoes, beans and strawberries.  We often got into trouble of some sort, but we were just being kids. All of that seems like it happened a million years ago at the moment.

So I remembered him, dug potatoes, and picked beans.  Digging through the dark, rich earth passed the time.  And tomorrow, we are having a picnic for some recovery friends. We are going to make potato salad from the ones dug today.  And there will be tossed salad, burgers, brats, baked beans, red rice, and berry pies with ice cream.  The storm has passed by, the winds have ceased, and my cousin has completed his life. It all seems to be peaceful and as it is supposed to be.

An old photo of my cousin as part of the May Day court so many years ago.  I have one of him holding me when I was about a month old.  

31 comments:

  1. i am sorry for the loss but understand the relief man...esp after several of the posts where you talked about what was going on..i think digging in the dirt was a great way to remember him...there is something special that happens when we join with creation like that....

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    1. So true, Brian. It was soothing to get my hands in the soil.

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  2. I have been wondering how he was. I knew he would be passing eventually. I am glad his suffering is over. I hope his wife can find peace. I am glad you were able to work in the garden today.
    He is part of it all now.
    As we all will be.

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    1. I knew that you would understand.

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  3. Syd - - - my condolences for the loss of your dear cousin --- and for the acceptance of peace that comes from a long drawn out life as you have described he had.

    Good for you to go to the garden - and nature - to remember the good times of your childhood with your cousin. That, in my opinion, is a beautiful meditative tribute to his memory.

    I hope the picnic tomorrow with good friends will begin a period of happiness and joy for you, as you have experienced some very unhappy circumstances - all beyond your control.

    It's good to have you sounding on your way 'up' again.

    Hugs,
    Anonymous #1

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    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts. He is definitely better off now. I am at peace with it and will be glad to have recovery folks here. They are my family now.

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  4. It must be a tremendous lifting of a weight, to know your cousin is no longer suffering. I like the way you remembered him, close to the earth.

    We are in for your storm tomorrow. It's early to be having one of these.

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    1. Stay safe from the storm. And a weight from my heart has been lifted.

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  5. Dear Syd,
    Death is the biggest mistery. At the moment I'm reading a beautiful book about loss and death. One of the things that I liked from it is what the author says about birth and death as the same experience. In both you liberate yourself. The difference, for her, is that life, as beautiful as it can be, is also full of trouble when death is the ultimate home of peace.
    You've been lucky enough to share your childhood with him. A big hug.

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    1. Thank you for the hug and the words. I figure that we begin dying as soon as we are born. Our cells have finite lives. And some of those cells can go crazy and become cancer. Such is the gamble that taking that first breath brings.

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  6. Such a sweet way to honor a cousin who shared in and enriched your life. May your cousin rest in peace.

    Sending kind wishes and condolences,
    Robin

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    1. Thanks, Robin. It is such a relief to know he is finally part of the greater energy.

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  7. Making a Fist
    BY NAOMI SHIHAB NYE
    We forget that we are all dead men conversing wtih dead men.
    —Jorge Luis Borges

    For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
    I felt the life sliding out of me,
    a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
    I was seven, I lay in the car
    watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
    My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

    “How do you know if you are going to die?”
    I begged my mother.
    We had been traveling for days.
    With strange confidence she answered,
    “When you can no longer make a fist.”

    Years later I smile to think of that journey,
    the borders we must cross separately,
    stamped with our unanswerable woes.
    I who did not die, who am still living,
    still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
    clenching and opening one small hand.

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    1. I have this very quote and it is such a good one. Thanks for reminding me of this again. It is so immediate right now.

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  8. Hi Syd,
    In reading earlier posts, I understand what your cousin has meant to you and how hard it's been to see him terminally ill for such a long time. We all have to let go of the people we love when they die. May G-d bring you peace and comfort in the happy memories you have of your dear cousin.

    Holly

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    1. Thank you, Holly. I think it is truly the best thing that he has died. He really did die years ago in many ways.

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  9. Be Well Syd. I am happy the seas are slowly calming and you and C are seeing the port you have sought for so long. Peace.

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    1. Mark, thank you. I am glad that I had the weekend on the boat and today have a bunch of friends coming over. It will be a nice way to have that calm and peace.

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  10. Oh Syd.....you have chronicled this awful last part of your cousin's life so I am crying. He is at peace, finally free of a sick body. This world we live in day in and day out can't be all there is. There is too much wrong with it. I know there is love and beauty in it too but there is so much wrong with it.

    I think of your cousin laying in that bed day in and day out and his wife refusing to let him go. It's hard for me to say anything about her.

    But I can say that you have a huge heart and that the past few months have been more about loss than gain.

    I'm glad you have C, your animals, your hard earned tools to maintain serenity during these times.

    And your boat. You have no idea how much joy it brings to me to see the beautiful photos you post from the water.

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    1. AM, he truly was kept alive when he really needed to have no interference with the natural process of dying. But that was not a decision that I could make nor one that I expressed to his wife who had her own reasons to keep him going by what ever means possible. My wife knows my wish to simply let me die without fuss and a lot of medical measures. The great beyond is there no matter how hard we want to stay earthbound.

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  11. I am so sorry to hear of your loss and please accept my condolences to you and your family at this sad time; although from reading your blog it sounds as though you lost your cousin a long time ago. May he be at peace now in a place with no pain.

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    1. Ellen, I did lose him a long time ago. He had terminal glioblastoma multiforme and should have been dead according to the statistics within about 15 months after diagnosis. But he lived in some kind of state for 8 years. I know that he must have been tired.

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  12. Syd, I have been thinking of him. I recently wrote a post about a documentary that I watched about compassionate assisted suicide...I know, weird! But I thought of your cousin and the stories you have told us here. I am sorry for your loss, but happy that he is now free from his pain and suffering. I hope his wife will be alright. That is a giant hole to fill when you have been a full time caregiver for so long. My heart goes out to her.

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  13. I am sorry for you Syd. But I know from your posts how this was affecting you and now there can be peace for both. Hugs from here my friend.

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  14. You are so honest, I love that about your writing. While my grandma does not have a brain tumor, she isn't experiencing much in the way of quality when it comes to life- from what it seems to me. I think that I can be honest, too, and say that her passing on will be a relief in that she will be able to move on to bigger and better things (as I believe).

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  15. What a lovely remembrance. I'm sure your cousin would have enjoyed those memories too.

    Have a wonderful picnic!

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  16. Syd,I am so sorry for your loss. You made some great memories together and the garden was the right place to carry them and you forward I think. Be good to yourself...Hugs

    Canadiancat
    Kathy

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  17. I'm late on getting caught up with this Syd. Thoughts and prayers to you, his wife, and the whole family. Even if he is in a better place, it is always hard for the survivors to transition. May you all find more peace every day.

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  18. Syd, I am sorry for your loss, and especially for how painful it was for all involved. God bless you all.

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