We had my cousin's memorial last Thursday. It's tough having a memorial for a 48 year old. I mean, I'm 47, so 48 feels REALLY young to me. Aren't we basically 16? Sixteen is way too young to die. So is 48.
There was so much I wanted to say during her memorial and yet...I didn't stand up and say anything. All of The Aunts spoke. (My grandma has 6 living daughters, since my teens my cousins and I have always called them The Aunts. The Aunts run the family.)
They talked about how loving Amy was right from the start, how much she loved babies, even when she was just a baby herself. They talked about her bright, sunny spirit, her love for her family, especially her two kids. They cried and made the rest of us cry.
Growing up, there were six of us kids that were separated by about nine years from oldest (Tanya) to youngest (Jason.) We were the offspring of four of The Aunts (there were more to come, but they were basically a half a generation behind the six of us.) We were always together, always finding trouble and backing each other when we did.
After the memorial, there was a dinner in the basement of the church. Fun fact, Tom and I got married in that church. It is a block away from the house I grew up in. The Ladies of the church provided a lot of the food for the dinner but The Aunts provided most of it. Even in grief, they take charge and manage everything. It's just who they are.
I was hugged a lot during that dinner. So many people offered their prayers for my continued treatments and healing. Quite a few reminded me that Amy would not want me to indulge in survivor's guilt. Some told me that my recovery was no longer just my recovery but also a tribute to Amy. No pressure, right? Some expressed surprise that I was at the service at all, saying I should avoid crowds and germs. I reminded them that I have two kids in public school, germs are a given. I also told anyone who said anything about it that the whole point of treatment is to keep living. I can't lock myself away and wait it out.
Tom and I talked quietly during the dinner. He informed me that when he dies, he wants to be cremated and then have his ashes spread during the following family reunion. He thought that would be a nice tribute. He also declared that he doesn't want any sort of service. He said it didn't make sense to him. I will remind him at a later date that services such as the one we were attending aren't so much for the dead as they are for the living. And I'll tell him that if his children want a service, I will have one for them. If it gives them comfort and a sense of closure, well, it's the least we can do for them.
This is all assuming that he dies before I do. That is obviously not a given.
I think it was my brother who told me not to feel guilty for continuing my fight against cancer and for living. He then turned to Tom and told him he shouldn't feel guilty for my health and for still having his wife in his life. Tom shook Jason's hand and said he wasn't feeling so bad about that as much as he was fighting his own guilt over his continued good health while I endure chemo and fight to regain my health.
This was the first I'd heard of Tom feeling guilty for being well while I battle cancer. I expressed my surprise over this and he shrugged, "Well, I am older than you are. I'm supposed to be the one who gets sick."
Yeah, it doesn't work that way but it was a very sweet sentiment.
It also proves my suspicion that it's harder for him to watch me go through all this than it is for me to actually go through it.
My prayer is that my cousin Amy is at peace, that she's celebrating in Heaven with my uncles, Grice (aka Smokey) and Keith. She loved a good party and I pray they're up there dancing with the angels.