Change. My goal for the “new year”, which for a teacher happens after summer, was to minimize. Simplify. Once again my life seemed to be revolving around work. Not to escape any personal issues like I may have done in the past, but as a means to travel more. To fund my big crazy trips. Well after a very successful adventure on the trans-siberian with Amanda I decided that maybe I could calm down for awhile. Take smaller trips, maybe some relaxing ones. Ones that don’t cost a small fortune…. like Thailand or Malaysia.
So I asked my boss to strip my hours down and somehow free up more time in the coming semester so that I could find myself again, have a life, focus on the things I love and I’ve been neglecting. That worked out really well since we were able to figure a way out for me to have 3 days off a week and leave earlier on Thursday. I was really looking forward to kicking my feet up and having a rest. Taking photos, writing here, chasing lost dreams.
Well about halfway through the summer something was wrong. I’d been feeling a bit weird. Sleeping too much, throwing up a lot… but there had been a stomach virus going around the school. Then suddenly it hit me, oh no, maybe I should run across the street and buy “a test”.
So I peed on a stick and was supposed to wait 10 minutes but like a bolt of lightning that second little green line appeared as soon as I lifted it up from the toilet. Surprise!!!
As if this news wasn’t life altering enough I received news 2 days later that my sister, my angel, Marilee was passing away. There was only a small window of time for me to get home where I might be able to still see her in a lucid state since they expected her to go into a coma before she died. Meanwhile, I end up in the ER hooked up to an IV because there is so little of anything left in my body from over a week of throwing up, trying so hard to figure out how I was going to manage the 31 hours of flying home alone. The doctor wanted to admit me but when she heard my story she told me as long as I was somewhat better the next day I could fly, if not I’d have to come back and be admitted to the hospital.
I can’t say the next day I was feeling fine but at least I wasn’t throwing up. I was terrified of the trip ahead but somehow I made it through (and didn’t even throw up once!). The most important part is I made it home to see Marilee on her last lucid day and the next day she passed away peacefully with just my mom and older sister left in the room with her. In the best ways it was a huge contrast to my father’s death. She was in control of the situation, she was at peace with it, and she went fairly quickly and painlessly. For all of the horrible things my father went through in the end and all of the incredible amount of stupidity and drama surrounding it that I can never speak candidly about, my sister’s death was healing.
I don’t know how to explain to anyone who hasn’t lived with someone like Marilee in their life. She was a beautiful person who lived an indescribably difficult life (to put it softly). After endless surgeries, and procedures her standard of living was greatly reduced every year. Even still she was the light and definitely the clown in a family filled with characters who take themselves all a little too seriously sometimes. It’s for that reason that her death, and her peace with it came as a “sigh of relief” for all those who knew her and loved her.
We struggled with whether or not to tell her about my pregnancy, worried that she might have regrets or not be at peace but it seemed to give her one last little thrill before she left. Family members couldn’t get both feet in the door without her blurting out “Catherine’s pregnant, I’m going to be an aunt”.
The unconditional love that was given to me by both her and my dad was probably one of the greatest and most undeserved gifts of my life. Losing them, at times, has felt like a cruel and unusual punishment but when I think of how I have both of them now forever in a place watching over me and out for me some of the pain goes away.
And now, I’ve been given a new little gift. A sweet little girl who will come in April and who Marilee promised mom she would look over.
A new adventure in my life, which so far has brought so many wonderful things. New friends, new goals, and new eyes.
Life is unending change.