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Things Wind Apart

I'm going to Tokyo tonight. I know what will happen. Shinya and I will have a wonderful evening, and tomorrow we will have The Talk. Dunno what'll happen after that, although I'm not leaving until Monday morning, which means that the time after our discussion will either be bittersweet or just weird and uncomfortable.


Got an email from Mia this morning. It was vague, but I could tell that something was wrong, since the subject was "Family Emergency." It said that it was about Aunt Jenny, but it didn't say more than that. Knowing Aunt Jenny's history, I figured the worst had happened and she had finally successfully killed herself. I was distraught--more so than I ever thought I'd be--and suddenly my constipation was cured in a horrible and drastic way. Thankfully, I was able to keep the bile down, and didn't need to run a Chinese firedrill around the porcelain altar.

Once I started feeling better, I had some of the Pepto-Bismol that Kelsye's dad was kind enough to bring me back from the States, and I called my parents to see what was up. The news was bad, but at least it wasn't quite as violent as I had imagined it would be. Apparently Aunt Jenny has been sick for several months now--although nobody told me, so it was news to me--and the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong until this week. It turns out that she has Hepatitis B, and that, in turn, has caused acute liver failure. Since she has Type II Diabetes, she isn't a candidate for a liver transplant. She has a few weeks left to live. There's nothing anybody can do anything for her now, except make her as comfortable as possible, which means that she's all doped up on morphine. Since the morphine is making her all groggy and confused, the hospital is working on getting her something that will kill the pain and make her comfortable, but allow her to still be somewhat lucid.

Mom and Aunt Cindy will probably fly down to Texas and visit her sometime this week. Aunt Jenny got married a few months ago--as is her style, it was impulsive and she didn't tell anybody about it until after it was over (in fact, nobody even knew the groom)--but he's in a different hospital right now for complications from an old car accident, so it doesn't look like he'll get to see her before she dies. (It's funny--he's my step-uncle, and I don't even know his name.) My uncle Kelsey--her ex--might get to see her before she dies, but who knows. One of her sons has been contacted, but the other is doing an internship in New Jersey, and they're having trouble reaching him.

I talked with Mom a bit this morning, and she told me that she always thought that Jenny would have a short life, but she's glad that it's this way because it'll be relatively quick and totally painless. Jenny has tried to kill herself so many times, and there was a period of several years where we didn't even know where she was--everybody figured she had killed herself or gotten killed or worse--so it's actually pretty amazing that she's lived this long.

She's had such a hard life. Mom sent her a box of new clothes and things for Christmas, and she sent back a thank you letter in her shaky, childish handwriting. It talked about every item Mom sent her, and it went into such detail. I remember one line in it, where it talked about a jacket Mom had sent. She thanked Mom for the jacket, talked about how lovely the colors were, and how she was so proud to have something so luxurious. It was a jacket from Target. She said that all the clothing she had was second-hand or she had made it herself, and it was so nice to have something new, something bought from a store. Mom showed me the letter, and as I read it, I cried. For Mom, it was a simply act; for Aunt Jenny, it meant the world. She said it was the best Christmas ever.

So I'm glad she got to have a perfect Christmas before dying. I'm glad that she and Mom got to connect before it's too late. I'm glad that Aunt Jenny had the chance to get cleaned up, to get help, to find love, and to make her life right. And I'm glad that she'll be dying peacefully surrounded by people who love her.

I don't think anyone could have predicted such a wonderful end for her.

At the same time, it makes me sad.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC)
I am very sorry about your aunt Jenny. I am glad she found love and a peaceful, comfortable end, but it's always hard to see a loved one go.

We haven't been in touch in so long... Are you going to break up with Shinya because you are coming back to America?
Aug. 1st, 2005 09:51 am (UTC)
Thanks. I'm really amazed that her life is going to end this well. We all thought that it was going to end years ago in a horrible way, so it's really great that it's ending like this. At the same time, like you said, losing somebody hurts, no matter how peaceful their death is.

Yeah, it has been a really long time. I've been away from the internet a lot lately because I've been so busy with packing and work and people trying to squeeze in a little Abby-time before I leave.

Actually, Shinya's the one who wanted to break up, although, as he admitted on the crowded Tokyo train this morning, he thinks he'll probably realize just how much he loves and needs me as soon as I go back to the States. We actually had a really great conversation--it was cathartic and helpful for both of us. We now know where we stand and--surprisingly--we're in the same place. We both need time to see if this is as serious as it looks like it might be. And he's shown me that I'm not as removed from my emotions as I like to think I am. This long-distance thing has been as hard on me as it has been on him. He was the first person to show me how vunerable I actually am, which I find to be pretty amazing. (I'm good at lying to myself about my feelings. I guess it's a self-preservation thing.) We're not "finished for ever and ever"--it's more like, "If we're in the same place at the same time again, let's see if we can't work something out." Which sounds more crass and clinical than it actually is.

Anyway, long story short, things went surprisingly, amazingly well, and I'm actually feeling pretty good about him and me. We're not perfect, and we're not technically together anymore, but there's still hope, and I think that's really important.
Jul. 30th, 2005 06:28 am (UTC)
wow, i don't know what to say other than my thoughts are with you.
Aug. 1st, 2005 09:51 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Jul. 30th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC)
I cried when I read this entry. I'm so sorry, Abby. I'm glad that she's going to be in a safe environment, surrounded by people who love her, but I know that it's still hard. I'll be thinking of you.
Aug. 1st, 2005 09:54 am (UTC)
I feel sort of bad about making so many people cry. I know it's a sad story, but it has a happy--albeit somewhat bittersweet--ending.

Thank you so much for your thoughts. I respect and admire you a lot, so that really means a great deal to me. Thank you.
Jul. 30th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry, Abby. Reading this made me tear up, and I don't even know her. You and your family will be in my thoughts. And good luck with Shinya, I'm sorry that all of these things are hitting you at once.
Aug. 1st, 2005 10:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, that seems to be the way of the world. Either everything's roses, or everything's thorns. Of course I can't complain--a perfect equilibrium would be tedious, and there'd be nothing worth looking forward to.

Sorry to make you cry. Like I wrote to Emmy, it's a sad story, but the ending is pretty happy, in a sad way. I'm glad her life is getting to end in such a good way, although part of me wishes her life could have been longer.

Things are good with Shinya, in a twisted way. We broke up, but there's still hope for the future. We'll see. We worked through a lot of things during our talk early this morning, and it was really good and really healing for both of us. To my surprise, I found that we're actually both on the same page, which was helpful to learn. I guess "broken up" isn't the right word; it's more like we're on hold for a while. So we'll see what the future brings. As he said, he's afraid that as soon as I leave Japan "for good," he'll realize fully just how much he loves me, and he'll need to do something serious to get me back in his life. Dunno that that's going to happen, but he only ever says what he means, which is something of a good sign. I'm not going to do the girl thing and be all weepy and hopeful and stuff, but a glimmer of hope is better than utter darkness, and, if nothing else, it'll help me get through this. It's hard, but our talk today really helped me a lot, and I'm feeling really good about all of this.

Thank you for your thoughts, Sarah. They mean a lot.
Jul. 30th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, Abby, I am so sorry about your aunt. I'm glad that in the end she found everything she was seeking.

I hope it's all okay with Shinya as well.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )