20 November 2012
Happiness in Despair Sunday afternoons were a ritual to me and my family – especially during Kansas City Chief football season. My family would gather in the living room, scarfing down homemade nachos, and forget about the burdens of this life and just enjoy screaming at the television. September 9th, 2007 was different, however. It was this Sunday afternoon that I had felt that I carried the world on my shoulders. On that Sunday morning, I woke up and anticipated a normal day of church and the laziness that follows after that. During church, I noticed the frantic looks on my family’s face. My aunt rushed to the back of the empty foyer to receive an unexpected phone call from the hospital. I sat there nervously looking around, wondering if anyone noticed my sweaty palms and my fidgety fingers. After the sermon, I immediately rushed to my father to anxiously ask him about the unforeseen phone call. As soon as I reached him, he looked hopeless. My mind raced of all bad thoughts possible. As soon as I was notified of what was going on, my heart became heavy.
My uncle was a lively man who lived life with pure joy even after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was first diagnosed with leukemia, cancer of the blood cells, when I was at a young age. This was an off and on battle throughout most of my life. I never understood the extremity of cancer until that day the hospital called my aunt during Sunday morning services. They called because my uncle requested to be taken off of all respiratory monitors. The ride to the hospital was silent. Being inside of the car felt like being inside of a small room with spikes on all four walls. There was nowhere to escape as the walls slowly moved in towards me. Outside of the car window, the world was happy. The sun was shining, kids were running through large piles of leaves, while their parents laughed and watched from the front porch. If only they had been feeling what I was feeling that day.
Walking to his room felt like I had ankle weights on. A lump started to form in my throat, I did not know what to expect when I first saw him. The hospital room was white and crisp. Everything had its place and there was a place for everything. Monitors beeped and nurses were in and out. My uncle was slowly losing consciousness due to the medications he was given, but he was still able to hear. My aunt told my uncle in a hushed tone that my family and I were there. He mumbled, notifying us that he heard my aunt. A sense of hope crept into my mind. I thought maybe this was all a dream and everything would go back to normal in no time. My aunt looked up at me and calmly asked me if I would like to say goodbye. I immediately rejected the offer, still feeling like it was all a bad dream and that I would wake up soon.
At 3:05 P.M. the nurse had made her last visit. She looked up with a sorrowful face. We knew. We knew he was gone. The pain was unbearable. Part of me felt selfish for only thinking about my own feelings. The other part of me felt angry. I tried to wrap my mind around why he was taken from my family when he did not deserve it. I did not know how my aunt kept herself under control. I constantly wondered how she would be happy again. Several years later, my aunt decided to remodel her bathroom as a much-deserved gift to herself. My friend and I stopped by for a short visit to see how she was doing. Immediately when we walked in, she had a