The baby is still pretty sick, coughing until she can’t breathe through the phlem. I can’t say that the universe has tried to make me feel better, either. This Wednesday, I lost my beloved cousin. This is the 3rd cousin I’ve lost, and the 2rd that was very dear to my heart.
I guess her story starts young. Her mother left her father when she was 8yo, because he was a drug addict. They moved to Colorado and her mother went through a fail marriage, then a worse boyfriend. Her mother was never terribly affectionate. She paid more attention to her men (they laid down the law). Her mother always choose men first and her father choose drugs.
I think that’s why she was always a rebel, always adventurous. She got into tattoos and piercings (so did I). Then she got into drinking and drugs, just like daddy. She met a man like that and they got married. Their marriage was volatile, TnT. But she loved him.
They both go mostly clean when she was diagnosed with stage three non-hodgkins lymphoma. She was pretty sick through treatment, but made it through. She and her husband really became too poor to support a habit and her treatment.
I’ve always had the opinion that the cancer really weakened her body, and her spirit was always shining bright, but it was never strong. She started drinking to find some comfort in the terrible life that she got herself into. She struggled for a couple of years before asking for help.
And she asked me. I flew her out to my home to dry out. She told me she was pregnant, but she began to bleed. It must have been a chemical pregnancy, because she wasn’t pregnant, but her gallbladder was infected. She had to get surgery.
It was a moment that changed both our lives. They had to stop the surgery, because they discovered she had cirrhosis. I remember the surgeon coming in to tell me that he stopped because he thought she would die on the table. She had 30% scarring and would need a new liver in a few years. We sat alone and I knew he was being direct but down playing how dangerous the surgery had been.
The more serious symptoms began a week later. She began to fill with fluid. She ended up in ICU. I sat with her. I spent time alone and with my mom by her side. Her mom flew out and spent a few days. There was talks of chest tubes. She was there 3 weeks.
She only stayed for a couple of weeks after that, until she was cleared to fly. She started having episode were her body would lock up fro low potassium. She had neuropathy and constant pain. She was in and out of the hospital… and in and out of rehab.
She was an alcoholic. So filled with sadness and loneliness, that she tried to fill it with whiskey and vodka. She couldn’t shake her addiction and she couldn’t shake her body’s deterioration. She got sick about two weeks ago. She put on fluid again, but signed herself out of the hospital twice. The third time, she never left it. She had a serious infection. Her liver shut-down from cirrhosis. Her kidneys began to fail next. They had to breath for her, but she spent 10 days intubated and developed pneumonia. She became septic. The renal failure came to a complete failure and she only lasted hours after that.
The strange thing is that after all this, she was one of the best people I had ever known. She was blunt and honest; she took no shit. She looked like that biker chick you went to lengths to avoid, but she was probably the most kind-hearted person I have ever known. She would give a stranger the shirt from her back, or a homeless man a night in a hotel just because no one deserves to sleep in filth. She would have done anything for a stranger and even more for a person she loved.
And I loved her dearly.