This is not going to be the most uplifting blog entry I've written. You won't hurt my feelings if you don't read or don't finish.
My friend Dottie lost her battle with breast cancer last Wednesday. I've put off writing about it, partially because I don't have any photos of my own of her on this computer. Dumb, but that's my excuse. I'd known Dottie for a little over or under 10 years. We met on a scrapbooking newsgroup way back in 1998 or 1999. In 2000, I met her in person at a weekend scrapbooking retreat for the aforementioned newsgroup. She was an amazing person, full of life and laughter and fun, and she called a spade a spade with no qualms or apologies. We kept in touch via email over the last 10 years, and I'd been praying fervently for her healing. She got the Ultimate Healing and has no more pain or sorrow, as she is in the presence of the Lord.
On Saturday, just four days before Dottie passed away, my great-aunt Leota went home to the Lord. She had had a stroke several years before, and her health had declined from there. She weighed just 60 pounds when she died. She was a tiny person anyway, but 60 pounds still wasn't healthy for her. Bless her heart! I tried to be good in the last few years about writing her letters and sending her photos, but never sent as many as I would have liked. You know, the shoulda, woulda, coulda guilt complex!
And then I started thinking, you know, I have lost a LOT of family members in my lifetime. I still have some friends who have not yet had to deal with the death of anyone close to them. I'm no stranger to that. This is going to be weird, but I thought I'd catalog all of the family members I've said goodbye, or rather, see you later, to over the years.
My first loss was either my great-grandmother or my great-grandfather; I can't recall which. I think it was MawMaw but I am not sure. Anyway, she died when I was really young, maybe 5? Her husband died shortly thereafter, I think. I was really young so the details are pretty hazy.
These dates may not be the most accurate. I know both of my step-dad's parents passed when I was in either middle school or high school. I can't remember the exact years (sorry!). My dad's mom died when I was a freshman in high school. My dad's dad (well, his step-dad, as his biological father died when my dad was 9) died in 1993 when I was a freshman in college. In 1994, my then-sister-in-law gave birth to a premature baby, Kevin Blake, who died 13 days later. It was the hardest funeral I'd ever attended. Until then, only old people had died in my life, and this just wasn't right!!! Babies aren't supposed to die!!! My mom's best friend died from cancer in February of 1994 in her late 30s. Another difficult death for me - she left behind a great husband and two sweet boys. She herself was a really sweet woman. I attended a funeral in 1997 for my sister's friend, who drowned. That also sucked - he was a senior and had his whole life ahead of him. My aunt (my mom's sister) died in August (?) of 1998. My grandmother (mom's mom) died in September of 1999. In December of 2001, I lost my dad. It sucks a lot to lose a parent, even if you don't have the greatest relationship with them. My great-uncle Doug (my maternal grandfather's brother) died in 2002, I think, then his brother Jimmy (Aunt Leota's husband) died in 2003, as did my cousin TJ - another rough death - he was my age (!!!) and a week or so later, my dad's brother Ray died. Then in February of 2005, my Popa, my mom's dad, died. That was another hard one for me, he was my last living grandparent. In early 2007 Brad's uncle died, and then in late 2007, his grandmother passed away. And that brings me to the two most recent deaths already mentioned at the beginning of this post.
I think there have been some other deaths on my dad's side of the family, but I can't recall who at the moment.
So here's the neat thing...I know they all are in heaven and that I will see them all again some day! That is pretty exciting. And that's what gets me through the rough times.