December 17, 2008

One year

It is hard to believe that one year has passed since Tricia was taken from us. I remember that day clearly as it was yesterday.

Tricia was really sick and we knew she would be passing at any moment. She had been moved from the hospital to a hospice to help manage her pain. Each day we visited her at the hospice, as we knew it was just a matter of time before she was taken from us. It had been just 2 weeks prior that Mr. Bear received a call that his sister (technically step-sister, but she was his sister just as his step-father is as much his father as his biological father) had a brain seizure. The day of December 16, 2007, we made hand prints of Tricia with our hand prints. It was a nice little exercise that one of the grieving counselors did with the whole family. It helped to have a piece of her to have with us.

That evening, we went back to the beach house we had rented near the hospice. (It was nice to to have a house to stay in rather than sleeping in hotel rooms, as we had done for several days. All of us stayed at the house and later during the week it was nice to have friends come and stay as they visited.) We made dinner and relaxed by the fire. It was a Sunday night and we had all had a long day. Mr. Bear and I went up to the room to sleep. I remember that it was a very light sleep, it seemed as if I was partially awake listening to every sound in the house. Then a knock came to our door and I immediately sat up and my mother-in-law came in and told us that she was gone. It was just after midnight and they had just received a call from the hospice. It was December 17, 2007 and Tricia passed away from breast cancer of the brain. Everyone in the house was up and made their way downstairs into the kitchen. There was sadness and relief that she was no longer suffering. We consoled each other and decided that there was no reason for everyone to head over to the hospice. The important phone calls were made but the rest would be made during the day. Mr. Bear and his cousin went over to the hospice to make sure things were taken care of and the rest of the house tried to go back to bed and get some rest; we all had a busy day ahead of us to plan the funeral.

The morning led to a beautiful day; the sun was shining and the weather was cool. It was peaceful and serene as if Tricia had ordered that for us. We were staying at a wonderful house on the beach and the beach had a calming effect on us all; it was therapeutic for us. I remember sitting on the patio staring at the waves crash.

For the first time in my life I was asked to write a eulogy. I never thought I would spend the holiday season writing a eulogy. I wrote her eulogy in the midst of the serene backdrop that Tricia provide for me. I have written many things; I have written a dissertation and a thesis and many papers and chapters over the years. But nothing as difficult and as meaningful as this short eulogy for my sister-in-law.

We had much to think about. Fortunately, many calls had been made prior to this day in preparation. But I still think you are never ready even knowing that she was sick and this was really happening. There was so much to do. The church and the funeral home, getting the eulogy in the paper, flowers and food for the reception afterward, deciding on music and readings for the mass, looking for pictures. In many ways, like planning a wedding (which I had done earlier in the year) in a span of a few days. But being busy and planning gave us something to do. It gave us something else to focus on rather than the pain we felt in our hearts.

That emptiness and pain is still there. I really don't expect it to go away. There will always be an emptiness and pain; I just think the magnitude of it will change over time. I am especially sad that Baby Bear will never know her; will never know her vibrant firecracker personality that matched her vibrant red hair; will never know her beautiful smile. I am honored that I had that short time to know her and I will share her pictures with Baby Bear and I know that Mr. Bear will share his memories as well.

Tricia, we miss you and we love you!!

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