I wanted to write something amazing about Natalie because she has always been amazing to me. I am incredibly blessed to have had such a close relationship with her, even though it means that losing her is difficult. Yesterday, after I finished writing up my blog post about my last visit with her, I read it over. It felt lacking to me. I was sure I didn’t get across what I really wanted to. But I decided to post it anyway.
I’m so glad that I did.
People’s comments and notes to me have been comforting.
Yesterday, I was sad when I received a text from Annabel that Natalie was quickly slipping away. Sad wasn’t the word, really. I felt my nose start to sting immediately and my heart filled my chest. The problem was that I was currently sitting in a meeting in the middle of a serious conversation with a department supervisor.
I quickly put my hand up to my face, pressing my knuckle against my philtrum (looked that up: the space between your nose and upper lip and also I’ve learned, a pressure point to help you keep from crying). My eyes began to tear up and as I mentioned, my nose was stinging as I, for a moment, thought I would lose my composure. But I held on.
Until I started talking. I then had to explain to everyone in the meeting why I was getting emotional (since our discussion about company priorities wouldn’t typically lead to tears). Explaining the situation makes it real, of course.
Later that evening, I saw my mother. I didn’t know that she was going to stop by. Dominic was in his jumper and Nathan was not yet home. There was a knock on the door. I looked out the peephole and saw Mom. I opened the door and she was already crying.
That’s when it really hit me. I held it in mostly so that I wouldn’t make Mom more upset, but knowing that my Mother was losing her baby sister was so incredibly sad.
I don’t think that we are sad for Natalie. She’s been in so much pain from the tumors. Her body looks… almost shriveled, for lack of a better description. When I did see her last, her eyes were empty. I absolutely believe that we have eternal spirits and one way we get a glmpse of them is through our eyes. I couldn’t see her spirit in her eyes. Her body was still going through the motions of living, but her spirit was no longer taking an active role in that.
But this makes me sad because I DON’T WANT HER TO DIE. I don’t want my Aunt Natalie to be gone. I don’t want my Mother’s little sister to be gone. I want her to come and play with Dominic, to play fetch with Pogi, to help me figure out how to organize my life. I want her to meet Dominic’s sibling(s) one day. I want the happy, healthy Natalie to still be here. I want my Grandma DeeDee to still have her daughter around. The 95-year old matriarch of our family shouldn’t have to watch her child suffer and pass away.
But that last paragraph is very full of negative emotions (sadness, complaining, even a little anger). We signed up for this life.
We were told that this would be difficult, that it would be a “test”. I don’t think we really knew how hard it would be, but I also don’t think I understand how truly RESILIENT our spirits are. When I have been in the depths of despair in past times of my life, I couldn’t imagine that things could ever get worse. And yet, today, I am so humbled by those trials that became blessings. I am not trying to be overly optimistic. The darkest days became blessings because I was able to appreciate the light SO MUCH MORE.
Because of the struggles over my emotions I had throughout high school and college, I am so thankful for the peace that I have learned to find.
Because of the anger I experienced one difficult night in Pennsylvania, I can smile so much bigger today than I ever could before.
Because of how sad and tired I was when Dominic was first born, I am frequently overcome with strong feelings of gratitude for this amazing child I am blessed to take care of and for the incredible husband I have helping me do it.
Because of the darkness, there is light.
The last thing that I heard Natalie say was a plea: she wanted the blinds opened. It was gloomy in her bedroom, her sheets tossed to one side and a small blanket twisted around her exhausted body. I kept looking at her feet. She used to tell me that when she was in heaven, she didn’t get in the husband line, but got in the line for beautiful, little feet. Even though her hair was gone, her face was full of pain, her body was quitting on her, and her eyes were empty, her feet still looked beautiful. I know that sounds like an odd thing to notice, but it was the last thing I looked at that evening that will likely be the last time I saw her alive.
I opened up the blinds for her and the sun filled the room. Somehow, the angle that it streamed in through the windows was just right to fall on her and her bed. She pushed her body over and lay facing the light. Then she closed her eyes. Dominic and I stood in the room for a few more minutes and I told him to say goodbye and we love you, Natalie.
Even near the very end for her, she knew that she wanted to turn towards the light. I cherish that my last memory of her alive will be of her resting in the sunlight.
“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding was my pain!” Alma 36:20