How do you say goodbye?

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March SOLC–Day 22

I don’t know my cousin well, so I don’t know his wife well either. But I’ve followed the Facebook photos through the years and watched their family grow and I’ve visited with them at rare family events. Over time the two of them became three, then four, then five with three beautiful daughters who are just now beginning to make their way into the world.

In the past few months, since I’ve learned of her illness, I’ve been watching her, my cousin’s wife, through pictures on Facebook. I’ve seen her enjoying various family events. I’ve seen her gradually lose her hair. I’ve seen her smiling on a trip to NYC, surrounded by family, Christmas trees and neon lights. Always smiling broadly, no wig to cover her balding head, cancer’s beacon. I don’t know her, but I’ve seen her strength, her determination and the signs of battle on her body.

Last week her daughter posted a new picture. In it my cousin’s wife sits in a hospital gown in a hospital chair in a hospital room with this daughter sitting on the edge of the chair. My cousin’s wife seems folded in upon herself. Her daughter sits slightly behind her, leaning toward her with her arm about her, sheltering her. The contrast between vibrant youthful health and debilitating illness is striking. Heartbreaking. The broad smile is now tentative and there’s a look in her eyes…Oh, that look in her eyes. I think it was then that I realized. But still I hoped. There was talk of eligibility for an experimental treatment. Hope.

The message arrived yesterday. “Cancer all over her body. In her lungs. Not good at all.” So the cancer has spread.  Her body is “riddled” with it–that suggests something to be puzzled over and solved. In this case there is no solution; her options, apparently, are at an end.

Though I don’t know them well, I ache with sadness. I ache for her, facing the ultimate lonely inevitability of it all. For her, as a mother, unimaginably leaving her girls, and for her girls who will soon be left behind, motherless. I look at the photographs of the past few months–those digital battle flags of determined cheer and sweet moments from daily life. I ache for my cousin, fixedly smiling at her side. I look into the eyes of her vivacious, smiling daughters and I ache for them.  I know some of what awaits them. I know what it’s like to be a motherless daughter.  Some of my pain now echoes from my own lingering grief. I weep for this shattering family, reeling in the face of this impending loss that will reshape the bedrock of their lives.

And I wonder. How do you wrap a lifetime, a world of love into words? How do you comfort the one who is departing and those who will be left behind? How do you say goodbye?

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12 thoughts on “How do you say goodbye?

  1. showgem says:

    So sad, you feel so helpless at these times in our lives. Prayers and support during this difficult time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy says:

    The ways in which we are connected today are truly amazing. How do you say goodbye? That’s a difficult one. One I don’t have an answer. My thoughts are with you, Molly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janie Fahey says:

    This makes me sad to read. I feel for the girls. Something like this always makes me think of my children and how lucky I am. I feel for your cousin, his girls, and you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a raw post that leaves me aching. I feel the pain in these words – pain for you and for your cousin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kimberley says:

    “The broad smile is now tentative and there’s a look in her eyes…Oh, that look in her eyes.” This moved me to tears. I am so sad for this woman and these children and for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. danrothermel says:

    Touching piece. Your line, “Always smiling broadly, no wig to cover her balding head, cancer’s beacon.” rings true for all of us who’ve dealt with cancer’s entry into our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “…unimaginably leaving her girls…”

    This hits so hard. I held it together until I read this. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing it. Thoughts and prayers to your cousin’s wife and family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Linda Baie says:

    One of my favorite bloggers passed in these recent months, and many of us had never met her, but saw that she was very ill, yet kept posting, determined. I was so sad for her and her family. As you described your cousin’s wife’s story of the recent months, I am saddened that such awful things happen to young families. My only words of advice come from my husband’s final months. Just send words to say goodbye, to say you’re thinking of them all. Some of those I thought close to me drifted away, and those who stayed, called, sent notes made that hard time easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for writing such a raw, heartfelt piece today. Though difficult to read, the pieces that are the rawest, the ones that give me pause, are my favorites on sol. You have many wrenching, honest lines in your writing today, bring a gasp every time. But you honor your cousin and this woman simply by writing about her today. Thank you for that. Best of luck to all of your family, but especially to this woman, her children and husband, as her journey continues…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tara Smith says:

    No answers – just sending you thoughts of sympathy and care.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Cindy says:

    What a powerful post, you capture so much truth as heartbreaking as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rita K. says:

    You have captured cancers journey, as well as the essence of compassion in this powerful post. Such a heartbreaking situation and your precise words and language conveys it so well.

    Liked by 1 person

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