My niece. The oldest of my siblings' (and my) children. Who I've known since she was born and became a sweet little girl and then a sweet woman, who always seemed to be doing her best to do the right thing, and usually did (actually, as far as I know, always did).
She had been battling a cancer that began over a decade ago. So we were lucky to have her these past years and I guess she was fortunate to leave after the suffering had become too much. But still. How can death even exist for our loved ones? It seems so impossible, at least emotionally, despite the reality our intellects can grasp or at least understand.
No matter how well prepared we might be, as my older son and I were saying last night discussing this loss, it still is inconceivable, a shock, a deep disappointment.
I'll miss her. I can't even imagine how her husband and children and mother and sister and brothers must feel. (Her father, one of my brothers, passed over a decade ago himself.)
But I am grateful that I got to spend time with her over the past several years and talk and laugh and hopefully make clear the love I felt, and still feel, for her. May she rest in peace.
That's her on her mother Catherine's lap shortly after her birth. I'm the kid in the back with the floral shirt, my brothers to my right—Tommy who by then was Father Campion, Jimmy (or "Buddy" as we called him to distinguish him from my father) Cathy's father in the tee shirt, and Robert, the brother-leaning-down, and his wife Marie (known to us as "Sis") all the way to my right. My two sisters, Irene and Joan, with the pixie cut, are in front of my mother and her mother, my father all the way to my left sitting on the edge of the couch. A moment in time, or "the eternal now" as my friend Selby used to call it. Always.