Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jen

Almost 8 years ago, my cousin Jen passed away. She was 20 years old. She was working a temp job with no health insurance and got very ill with what the health clinic told her was just a virus they could do nothing for. They gave her some cough medicine with codeine to help her get some rest and sent her on her way. After being sick on and off for a couple of months, it got to the point where she couldn't keep anything down and was growing very weak. Her mom and boyfriend took her to the local hospital where they admitted her and gave her a medicated mask. We all drove down to Pleasanton to see her, but it was late and they wanted her to get some rest, so we just waved to her from the door way. Early the next morning she had a seizure and went into a coma. Apparently she had a respiratory strain of strep and since it had gone untreated for so long, she had become septic. They kept her on life support for about a week and she had several complications involving blood clots. One made it's way to her brain, which made her essentially brain dead. As hard as it was for my family, they decided to take her off of life support on January 9, 2003. Eight minutes later, she was gone.

You are probably wondering where the hell this is all coming from and why I decided to write about this today.

I stayed home from work today after waking up with a migraine. I thought I might be able to push through it, but I could barely open my eyes with the sensitivity to light. As I laid in my bed trying to go back to sleep, the construction workers building the house next door started their day of work. I made my way to the couch and fell back to sleep. During this painful sleep I had a crazy dream.

I dreamed that my family was on this motorcycle trip with a motorcycle club (this is not that crazy as my parents belonged to one for years). At one point in the trip we all stopped to rest and there was a rest area with couches and stuff. We were all sitting around reminiscing about Jen. At some point she just kind of showed up and was there interacting with us. As long as we were talking about her, looking at pics or videos, she would remain there. But the second we stopped for a moment, she would start to fade away. She would lose her energy and kind of fall asleep and then she would start to disappear. We knew we had to get back on the road, and as much as none of us wanted her to leave, we had to wrap things up there. She started to fall asleep and my uncle wrapped her in a blanket and held her in his arms and just started sobbing as she faded away. We were all crying pretty hysterically and as I started waking up I was whimpering. I sat up, head pounding and kind of let the dream sink in.

Then I started bawling. Like it just freaking happened.

Jen loved purple and butterflies. I have always been a fan of purple myself and already had purple bedding and curtains and stuff before JB and I moved in together. The guest room has my old bed in it, which means it has my old bedding and curtains too. I also made a collage frame for her memorial back then of pictures of us from when we were little until just shortly before she passed away. I told JB that the guest room was kind of going to be my Jen room. So I walked in there after waking from my dream and just sat and looked at the pics and cried, which made my head hurt even worse. I just felt like I really had to sit in the moment and let it resonate because I haven't had a visit (I believe that lost loved ones visit in dreams) from her in so long. I can't even remember the last one.

The saddest thing for me, aside from her life ending way too soon, was that after years of being apart, we had just started being a part of each others lives again. Somewhere along the way our moms (her mom was my uncle's first wife and my mom's BFF) had a falling out. With her living in the bay area, and me living in Sacramento, we only really saw each other on holidays. Once we could actually drive ourselves places, we were both in serious relationships and at that time, she was with someone who was very controlling. So, it wasn't until I was about 20, when we all gathered in Pinecrest to spread my Papa's ashes, that we reconnected and started making trips to see each other. She even drove all the way to Sacramento to get me and drive me back down to her place for the weekend when my license was restricted due to an MIP (minor in possession; got caught drinking at Folsom Lake on the 4th). I was so happy when we reconnected and started making an effort to be a part of each others' lives.

I remember when I got the call from my mom about what happened with the clot and they were going to go down and be with my family when they took her off life support. I didn't want to go. I had already seen her in the hospital with a machine breathing for her and swollen from all of the fluids they were pumping into her, and I didn't want to replay that moment in my head for the rest of my life. But I did leave work and go home. I remember being in my Jetta listening to Christina Aguilera and crying a little. But having experienced so much loss at such a young age, it just didn't hit me as hard at that moment.

I can go a long time without thinking about it, just like the rest of them. But once in a while I will hear a song, or think about the fact that she will never be a bridesmaid in my wedding, and I kind of lose it for a minute. JB has walked in on a couple of these and he just really doesn't know what to do in that moment. The truth is, there is really nothing he can do. I'm sad that he never got to know her.

I'm really thankful for the visit, even if it does cause me a little bit (okay a lot) of pain.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I don't know how I missed this post last week. Reading this just completely made me tear up as that's exactly how we feel (my fam) right now with my cousin's passing last month. His birthday was yesterday and anyone who could met at one of his fave restaurants for dinner. Jon and I go down there tomorrow morning to celebrate him. He would have been 36. It just kills me how life can be so complicated and unfair. And how we get so wrapped up in our lives that days, weeks, months pass from seeing some of our best friends & family . . . and then something tragic happens and you rush to the aid of everyone else - but then you almost kick yourself for not having done that sooner with the person that passed.

Anyways, loved reading this and learning a little more about you :) Virtual hugs!

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