Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sylvia Easley, 9 Nov 1943 - 19 Dec 2007

My aunt Sylvia died this morning. She told her (grown) kids to go to school, asked for a drink of water, and took her last breath. She had end-stage pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma, and she was at home, in a hospital bed in her living room.

We lived our lives at a great distance. Sylvia lived in Texas (San Antonio, Houston, Kerrville), ran a balloon delivery business, married a few men (not at the same time), and loved fiercely. She was the strongest and most indomitable person I ever knew. The way she lived with cancer taught me how to do it: You live. Just keep living. Keep doing things you want to do. If your bones are brittle, go to a water park and ride all the slides, and then take meds and sleep all the next day. If people you love are there, spend every ounce of your energy laughing with them, and then take meds and sleep all the next day. Don't be "sick" with cancer. It's an annoyance. It thinks it's in charge, so let it think so, but quietly go about your own business and don't let it stop you.

Until it's too strong. And then, recognize that you're tired, and lie back and marvel at the fresh, clean taste of cold water, and listen to songs that have always moved you, and wake up a few times a day to smile at the faces of the loving ones who surround you. Go home, and have your dog lie on the bed with you, and open the blinds each day to watch your own neighborhood and your own yard. Sleep, while your heart keeps beating and beating, while your nails turn dark and then pink again, while your breathing gets ragged and then smooth again.

And then, one morning, speak softly to your children, and just...Stop.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful (like Sylvia and you). LYM, TJ

Heidi and Sarah Face The Day said...

Very beautiful and so wise. I'm going to post what you wrote on FTD - gives people something to think about. I'm sorry about Sylvia. Really am. But glad she lived well despite the odds. Lots of love to you and your mom and your family, SRA

Abbas said...

very nice, and thought provoking.
I'm sorry about Sylvia. You're definitely sad missing her... but I guess we shouldn't be... She had a wonderful life, and understood the meaning of it. That's what matters.

Kim said...

I'm sorry, Jenny. Your words are beautiful and moving.

Minerva said...

This is beautiful..and speaks so loudly to me..
Thank you,

Min

Terry said...

Minerva sent me down and this is just beautiful!

Minerva has the same courage!

The last sentence is so sad though
Goodbyes are so hard.
Why do they call them "good" anyways?.....Terry

PJ said...

How beautifully spoken!! God Bless Sylvia -- and God Bless you!

Bobbie said...

Heartbreaking and heart rendering at the same time. Minerva pointed me this way also.

Jenny said...

Thank you all for your comments and your warm thoughts. Sylvia was a really amazing person and an inspiration to me. It means a lot to know that this post touches others, because I think it really has the essence of her.

fineartist said...

I've stopped in from Minerva's too, what a beautiful way to remember and give tribute to your Aunt.

And the entire time I was reading this I kept hearing Eric Clapton in the background of my mind playing, Son and Sylvia. x

craziequeen said...

I am also here from Minerva's blog to say what a very nice post about a very nice lady.

Keep living until it's time to stop - the only message we can give to people fighting the C Battle.

cq

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Beautiful and inspiring and very moving, too! One can take a lot from this even if you don't have cancer....Anyone with any kind of Health Issues can be deeply comforted and inspired by this. Thank You So Very Much. Your Aunt Sylvie and you and Minerva---yesk I came from there, are ALL incredibly inspirational and comforting, too!
My heart goes out to you in your deep loss...But what a gift Sylvie was....!

h said...

My sympathies to you. Your writing is beautiful and you described your aunt and your love and admiration for her wonderfully. Thank you for sharing that.

Dee said...

Jenny, I also found my way here via Minerva's blog.

Your aunt Sylvia sounds like some woman, and this story really strikes alot of chords with me.
I wish that I could live and die with such grace.

Love to you,
Dee
xxx

Anonymous said...

Sylvia was indeed special. I wish you could have known her when she was a teenager. Able to laugh hysterically 'til everyone around her was "bustin' a gut" as she used to say, and she could cry with such deep sorrow in her eyes that your heart would break, your own eyes would tear and soon you'd be part of a sobbing duet, or trio, or... She's one of the few people I've been blessed to know whose life as an adult was as bubbling over as when she was much younger, and it was impossible to dwell on your own issues with her around. When I think of her, I can only see her with her wide smile and back-of-the-throat giggles building into loud laughter. I hope she's forgiven me for having made her laugh in the hospital after her teenage appendectomy, burst some stitches and having to stay a few days longer than she had wanted. You've done such a beautiful job capturing the spirit of the girl/woman I was blessed to know. Thank you. I can only believe that she is smiling warmly at your loving words.