Monday, February 11, 2013

We Are Family

Over dinner tonight, Bob pointed out that we have had a lot of excitement and drama in our lives lately. And it struck me that he is absolutely why haven't I been writing?

One of the biggest, most dramatic events of the past few weeks was a death close to us. My Facebook friends have seen a lot of this already, but wow, it was an emotional experience.

For the past 18 years, I sang in the choir with Chris. For about the last ten years, I have sat right next to Chris. Every Wednesday night and Sunday morning, she was the person I relied on, joked around with, and got to know a little better than other people.

One Wednesday, it was just like always. Chris mentioned to me that she was seeing a doctor in the next few days and was concerned. She was a Type I diabetic and she had a wound on a toe that wasn't healing. That had her really concerned. Almost like an afterthought, she added that also, she was bruising. She said under her clothes it looked “like someone had beaten the crap out of” her. By the next Wednesday, we were praying for her soul, since life support was removed that afternoon and we didn't yet know whether she had survived the evening. (It turned out she was a fighter to the end: she didn't pass until 1:00 Friday morning.)

The bruising, it turns out, was because she had an aggressive leukemia. When the doctor saw her blood work he sent her directly to the hospital. They were supposed to do a bone marrow test, but before they could get to it, her brain began to bleed. They put her into a medically induced coma and cut her skull to remove the pressure on her brain. By Wednesday, her family made the difficult decision that Chris as we knew her was already gone and could never come back, and had the life support removed.

Chris was a person who had led a difficult life. All of us in the choir knew this, though she wasn't a complainer. In fact, quite the opposite. Chris was grateful for every positive thing that came her way and was always quick to offer a helping hand. She was a quiet, unassuming person with a wicked wit and a very generous heart. She did lots of things behind the scenes so quietly that none of us were aware of everything she did. Her absence from the choir is like a gaping, open wound. It has been really, really tough for us all.

In fact I would say that the only silver lining I can find in this tragedy is that this experience has made all of us in the choir stop and notice how much we mean to each other. We spend, on average, at least four hours a week together, sometimes more. Working together to a common goal. Often under emotionally charged circumstances. We laugh together, but we also pray together and sometimes, like this week, cry together. That's more time than most of us get to log with our siblings and other extended families. The loss of Chris has really focused us on the fact that we are, truly, a family too.


Shannon said...

Very sorry, Susan. I totally get the closeness with a choir. You've made music together for 15 years.
Creating together is a powerful bond.

Susan said...

Thanks, Shannon. I hadn't looked at it quite that way, but you're right!