An Old Resolution for a New Year.

I couldn’t end 2010 without a nod to my Aunt Nancy, who was diagnosed with a rare gallbladder cancer in August and died six weeks later at age 68. She’d never even been to the hospital before that.
 
We miss her.
 
So while you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, I hope you’ll think of this blog that I wrote about two weeks before she died, and resolve to be there for your family and friends when they need you the most.
 
Thank you for being here at MommaSaid, and a happy and healthy new year to you and yours.
 
Jen Singer
 
 
Nobody was going to keep me from going to the hospital. I mean, if there’s anyone in my family who feels at home on the oncology floor, it’s me. But I can understand why my mother would want to protect me from seeing my aunt, Mom’s little sister, looking so sick. That’s what mothers do, no matter how old their kids are or how much time they’ve logged in at Oncology. Besides, we’re WASPs, and though every family deals with grief in its own way, our kind seems to have the corner on “reining it in,” just like our Puritan ancestors would approve.

But my aunt — the one I grew up next door to, the one who drove me home from school every day — has a rare incurable cancer that’s going to take her from us sooner than later, and we are all devastated. Honestly, I can’t rein it in. Not this time.

If there’s one thing I learned when I had cancer, it’s that you need your family and friends most of all at times like these, so I went to the hospital to visit her. I brought along a drawing of flowers that my sixth grader had made for her, and a “Cancer Card,” created with my seventh grader, that grants its bearer the right to use it whenever and wherever she needs to “you know, play the Cancer Card.” The first one made her tear up. The second one made her laugh.

The whole heart-wrenching ordeal reminds me of a hike we took during a recent trip to Mohonk Mountain House (Thanks, Mom!), when I got in over my head on a “trail” (really, just a lot of harrowingly steep rocks) called the Labrynth. Somehow, I’d pictured it as a maze made from hedges leading to a leisurely walk up to the tower that overlooks the lake and the hotel, so I agreed to go along with my husband and the boys. Instead, it was, for me anyhow, a too-tough climb in bare-treaded sneakers, relying on weakened muscles that have only started to work out after months of sitting it out — doctor’s orders. Unfortunately, once my family was into it, there was no turning back.

Every once in a while, the kids would shout back to me,
My husband the marathon runner trekked behind me the whole way, making sure that I stepped in all the right places.

My husband the marathon runner trekked behind me the whole way, making sure that I stepped in all the right places.

After sliding down boulders on my butt, praying my cell phone didn't fall through the cracks, there was an oasis of sorts ahead.

After sliding down boulders on my butt, praying that my cell phone didn't fall through the cracks, there was an oasis of sorts ahead.

When we got two-thirds of the way up, we saw a sign that read
So I escaped from the Labrynth, while the rest of my family took the Crevice to the top.

So I escaped from the Labyrinth, while the rest of my family took the Crevice to the top.

Because sometimes, your family needs to be strong for you.

Because sometimes, your family needs to be strong for you.

I made it to the top my own way.

And you have to go your own way.

And when I got to the top, I met up with the people I love the most.

Because when you get to the top, you will eventually meet up with the people you love the most.

I was going to end this post with some clever, sweet and funny ending. But just as I started to write it, smack dab in the middle of my the sentence, my oncologist called with good news: The semi-annual PET scan I had yesterday was clear. No cancer…again.

So, on behalf of my family — a bunch of Jersey people — I will instead let Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band say it for me:

No responses to “An Old Resolution for a New Year.”

  1. Robyn Wright of Robyn's Online World

    I’m sorry about the loss of your Aunt Nancy. {{{HUGS}}} I’ve lost 3 of my grandparents in the past couple of years and I know how hard it is. Every family get together I still keep waiting for them to show up.

    That is wonderful news about your test results though! What a great way to end the year with such wonderful news!

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