My Aunt Jane was diagnosed in December of 2009. When my mom broke the news to all of us, we were devastated. Though Jane carried the title of “Aunt”—she was just like a second mom to me, my siblings and cousins. She was never married and had no children of her own, so we were her “kids.” Being the baby of our entire family, this news was ESPECIALLY hard for me to take.
Throughout my life, I have heard MANY people utter the phrase, “I just love your Aunt. I want to be like her when I grow up.” I’ve always elicited some type of response such as “I know..she’s great.” However—I’m not sure I truly took into account how wonderful Jane really was until I had to face the possibility of her being gone from my life.
When Jane was diagnosed with the cancer, I was really upset. We all were. It just didn’t seem fair that a person who was so amazing had been chosen to battle this awful disease. I questioned God many, many times and asked Him how could He do this to her? I didn’t understand why a person who did so much GOOD in this world was going to be taken away from us---when there are so many people who do NO GOOD and would get to still live life on Earth with their family and friends. Of course, God got things straightened out with me. And I’m glad that He did, because the last thing I wanted to lose amidst all of this turmoil was my faith in Him.
While it doesn’t seem fair that this happened, I feel that God had a greater plan for Jane. Doesn’t He always? He was using her as an example for all of us. He chose her, because, like I said before---soooo many people admired her, respected her, and wanted to be just like her. Therefore, what better way to demonstrate the faith she exhibited in God than to show all those people how she accepted her lot in life with such dignity. I’m not going to pretend that there wasn’t a point when Jane was upset about this—because she was. When this all began, she said “WHY ME?”. But it wasn’t long before she changed that question to “WHY NOT ME?” Throughout her entire illness, she never complained. Instead, she made the most of her time here. To the best of her ability, she continued to do what she could for family and friends---still ALWAYS thinking about all of us, above herself. She continued to smile and love life. She continued to be a mentor, be a supporter, and be an inspiration. Her body started to fail, but her soul kept thriving. And she continuously tried to comfort all of us. Her token speech was “I’m at peace with this. I’ve lived a good life. I’m almost 69” (And coincidentally—she DID make it to 69, since she passed on her birthday!)
In the last few weeks we had with her, her biggest push for all of us was to make sure that we made the most of our lives. She didn’t want us to waste our times arguing with each other, worrying about what the future would hold, or grieving for what we had lost. Instead, she wanted us to LIVE in the present.
I’m very grateful to have an Aunt who inspired me to approach life in that manner. Jane didn’t waste one minute. She lived. She laughed. She loved. And when she took her final breath, she did it with no regrets. Her final wish—was for all of us to do the same.