2.21.2014

Purple Flowers + What's Really Going On In My Life


Things have been quiet in this space this week. Mostly because I have not had any words flow out of me and nothing seemed appropriate to be posting when I feel the way that I do right now. I could not put on a fake smile and publish the outfit post or sponsored post that was really on the agenda for this week. I just could not do it.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about this here since I try to only fill this space with positivity. But then again, I always strive to be genuine and authentic in my writing, and I suppose I would be doing myself a disservice to ignore what is actually going on in my life. And maybe it would be good for me to form my thoughts into words to share.

So I guess any story should start from the beginning. And the beginning is that I have several great aunts that are my mom's father's sisters. I think I touched on that in this post about my grandpa, but I didn't know any of them until I was in 5th grade because our family had been disconnected years ago. I was always curious to get to know my grandpa and wrote him a letter one day to the address I had, the only shred of hope to contact him. With that letter, I was opened up to an entirely new family I had known nothing about, including five great aunts.

One of these aunts is my Aunt Andrea. She has lived such a rich life. She has been married for 40 years to my Uncle Albert, with whom she has one daughter with that is now married and in her 30s. She has lived in Los Angeles her entire married life, and has become well known in all the communities she has been apart of. She was an officer for the LAPD, was on the board of a cancer research foundation, and gives an art scholarship in her name every year at her college alma mater (LMU). I have always loved the times I have gotten to spend with her and my uncle. Usually about once a year I would make a point to spend a week with them and we would do anything from shop (Anthro is her favorite too!), take walks, go to museums, eat sweets (she has quite the sweet tooth), and watch Dancing with the Stars (I hate it, but only tolerate it for her).

Her daughter and son-in-law live in Washington DC and work as FBI agents. Living on the opposite coast as her only child has been heartbreaking for her, as you can imagine. Last summer, when her daughter announced that she was pregnant with her first child, my aunt and uncle decided to pack up and finally make the move to Virginia this January, when the baby was expected to arrive.

During the fall, as they were packing and making moving arrangements, my uncle started to have health problems. He has struggled with back issues for years now, but things got much worse this past fall. I really don't know all the details, but I know that he was in the hospital for a couple periods of time and that my aunt had started filling her days with being his caretaker. It was unfortunate, but things would be okay and the move would continue as planned.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, and I awoke to a call from another aunt on New Year's Day, my Aunt Alexa. She had called to inform me that my Aunt Andrea was in the hospital because she woke up and could not walk. At first, it seemed as though it may have just been a pinched nerve, but it became more clear that it was likely cancer. She was waiting to have a certain scan (technical terms have escaped me) that would tell us more, but would prevent her from flying for 2-6 weeks, missing the birth of her granddaughter.

The scan was delayed due to the holidays and they decided to make their move first. Miracles happened, and she and my uncle (both unable to walk) were escorted by their son-in-law and one of my cousin's on a plane back to DC, just before snow storms hit and their daughter went into labor. They have been there ever since, my aunt in the hospital and my uncle now in an assisted living residency. Their daughter gave birth to her baby girl just two days after their arrival.

My aunt has been diagnosed. She has a tumor on her brain (preventing her from walking) and stage four lung cancer in both of her lungs. About three weeks ago, she had an operation called a brain slice that would hopefully remove the tumor, and then they could start to work on her lungs. It would take a couple months to actually know if the operation was successful.

To make an already long story a bit shorter, she had another brain scan last weekend and three more tumors were found. They have given her 3 months to live. She has stopped eating, is starting to become disoriented, and is quickly losing the strength to talk.

I am truly devastated and don't know how things can change so quickly. This is the woman from this post and these photos. She looks so healthy and full of life. I just don't understand this. All of my aunts greatly believe in me and encourage me, but my Aunt Andrea is the one I would call and cry to during my senior year of high school when I was just stressed and confused about everything. She has always been there for me whenever I needed her and provided a maternal comfort that I have lacked most of my life. She made me feel better and I could tell her anything.

I found out the urgency of this situation on Wednesday afternoon. I have not quite been the same since then and have been trying to figure out how to deal with all this. I am grateful for all of the people who have given me their love, have listened to me talk about this, given me advice, and have just cried with me. I have been trying to go about life as normally as possible, and have been successful at it, but things have just been tainted by a melancholy feeling in the background, you know?

As for making my way out to Virginia right now to see her, I just don't know if it is going to be possible. Flights are very costly and it is not something I can afford to do right now, sadly. Also, I have been warned that the quality of our visit will likely not be great, but I honestly don't care if it meant I could hold her hand and hug her one last time. And then maybe there is a miracle out there with her name on it. I am not sure. God and time will only tell.

So that is what is happening with me right now. I will admit, I do feel a bit better getting all these words out of me. It makes it all more manageable and like I can actually move forward through it all. For now, I think my next step this weekend is to get photos printed, a birthday card made, and a letter written to send to her. Her 70th birthday is coming up on March 9th. I think it will be good for me to get thoughts out on paper for her so that she knows just how I feel about her.

Believe it or not, I am at Starbucks while I write this, so I think that is enough public crying for me today. I'm off to spend some time in the sun at the dog park with my Marly and have a little lunch before I head to work. In other news, I applied to renew my passport this morning and am having a photo shoot with my nephew tomorrow, so that should brighten my weekend.

Thank you to those of you who read all the way to the end of this post. Virtual hugs and kisses to you all.




13 comments:

Jennifer Kingaard said...

Love you, Jess! And I know Andrea knows that you love her too.

Itbritt said...

Oh, Jess. Thank you so much for opening up to us, and sharing a huge, and very true part of yourself. I am brought to tears by the integrity, and the honesty of your writing. Thinking and praying for you, your aunt and your family often.

Sending you some love and hopefully some peace, from seattle.

abby - little city adventures said...

My heart is hurting for you right now, friend! I'm so sorry. My prayers go out to you and your family!
I think writing the letter to her will help you cope so so much and will help her, even if she doesn't quite understand it completely, I think she'll find some comfort in it as well. Writing this post probably helped as well! Props to you for the honesty, it always makes every better, even if only slightly. Let me know if you need anything!

josie c. said...

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I am sure that your aunt knows how much you love her. Times like these are so hard because there is not much we can do but pray and send positive thoughts. I think it's good that you shared this and are looking for ways to comfort yourself and feel better. Stay strong. xoxo

Lix Hewett said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear about all this. I hope everything goes as well as can possibly be expected, and that you get some sort of closure. *gives you all the hugs*

Sam Bell said...

Hi Jess, This is my first time visiting your blog and I am so sorry to be meeting you at a time like this. How truly devastated you much be. I am so deeply sorry to hear about your Aunt. I know people sometimes say that you shouldn't go to see someone because the quality of the visit will be low and you should remember your loved ones in a happier healthier time, but honestly I think every moment you have with a loved one, regardless of their state is worth it. I pray that you are about to see your aunt and give her a hug with all the love of a thousand hugs. I am so sorry love, please update up with how she is doing!!

Carolynn said...

Oh dear! I am so sorry. I will be praying for you--and I know no words I can say will help. Hugs.

Jess // Foreign Room said...

Thank you so much, Britt. Everyone has been so kind and caring towards me during this time. I feel so loved.

Jess // Foreign Room said...

I love you too, Aunt Jenny!

Jess // Foreign Room said...

Thank you so much, Abby. I am working on putting that letter together and hopefully some photos or a little piece of artwork to bring with me to DC to give to her. We shall see what I come up with.... I do agree that the letter will be good for me xoxo

Jess // Foreign Room said...

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words!

Jess // Foreign Room said...

Thank you!! I am originally from San Diego, but lived in the Bay Area when I was younger and then moved back to SD, and now I am back again! But I have been here for the past 8 years, so I would say I kind of grew up here! I moved around a lot when I was younger so it is all complicated haha. Glad you stopped by :) I really like your blog as well!

Jess // Foreign Room said...

I want you to know that your comment specifically made me think more about going to visit her, and I actually decided that I will be going in a little over a week. You are so right; every moment is precious and I am so glad that I decided to make the trip. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment xoxo

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