Sounds Like a Sad Country Western Song
by Karen Zych
(Downers Grove IL)
My first experience with real loss was that of a 50 year old friend who battled brain CA for 4 years. I visited regularly in her last 6 months, mostly non-responsive, yet something told me she could feel my presence. Other friends had fallen away, too uneasy or too busy to visit. Then a 36 year old friend who was in the happiest time of her life, dropped dead from a brain aneurysm. I should have known then what I was in for.
Living a thousand miles from my family, my sister was diagnosed from lung CA. She lived one year from diagnosis. I moved back to Chicago help out. Mostly myself. I was there for the last 10 weeks of Linda's 44 year old life. I stayed home to help my mother and other family members get through this. I remember the day we buried her. They played Garth Brooks, "The Dance" at her funeral. Her son's wedding was in 9 months and her daughter was pregnant with her second child.
Within 3 years, my mother died on January 4th, my second sister, Marilyn, 47 was diagnosed with Lung CA two weeks later and she died 6 weeks later. She also was in a very happy time of life. My surviving sister was diagnosed with breast CA the day after we buried my second sister. Shirley is a 14 year Breast CA Survivor and we now live across the hall from each other in condos.
1 1/2 years later, my spiritual teacher, my Sister in Law, 60 died in her sleep. A smoker also. Her husband, my big brother, Stan, died 18 months later, 16 days after diagnosis of lung CA.
18 months later, a neighbor poisoned my 3 dogs who later died. I was just so grateful it wasn't my only family member left, my sister Shirley.
How does this kind of thing hit some people so often and others, not at all? Has it made me a stronger person? I do know that it changed me completely. I had been working in a 6 figure job when I began hospice volunteering 14 years ago and did that for 7 years, then became a CNA making $12/hr and now a Volunteer Coordinator for Hospice for the last 3 years. I used my hospice experience to work through my grief. I see others do the same.
I still suffer depression from time to time, no matter how much I tried to live in the present, and enjoy life. The pain may not be the same as it was, but it is still a large part of my life. I am grateful I was born a with a positive disposition, it shines through in spite of my life experience. I find my sense of humor keeps me sane and my 2 Maltese, great nieces and nephews do too.
Blessings to each of us that trudge this happy road of destiny. Karen