I recently learned my aunt has been moved into hospice care. She's only about 68 or 69. (I'm not exactly sure of her age.) She has been battling cancer for approximately six years and unfortunately, the cancer will win. While I realize many people younger than she is have succumbed or will succumb to this disease, it seems much to soon to lose her.
When my uncle called to give us the news, I alternated between wanting to go and see her and not wanting to go and see her. I didn't want my last memory of her to be that of a frail woman ravaged the effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and the cancer itself.
I lost my grandmother when I was 15 and when I think of her, the first image of her that pops into my mind is that of her lying in her casket. I didn't want the same type of memory of my aunt - to have the first image of her to be of her sick and dying. I wanted to have that last memory of her to be one of the fun times I had at her home when I was a kid, or seeing her at a family reunion, or her sitting at our dining room table, her crochet hook flashing as she talked and drank coffee with my mom, anything other than it to be the one of her as she is now.
My mom, my sister, and me went and saw her Friday night. We laughed and talked and had a wonderful time. We didn't stay long - a little more than an hour or so because we were worried about tiring her out especially since she insisted on sitting up in her bed while we were there.
Am I glad I went? Definitely. Am I still worried that my first memory of her will be of her as she is now? A little but I think that if I hadn't gone to see her, the regret of not going would have weighed more heavily on me than that memory.