Friday, September 7, 2012

My Beloved Aunt Amy

I think I mentioned on a blog post a while back that my Aunt Amy had bone cancer.  My Aunt Amy is my dad's sister-in-law (married to Daddy's only sibling...Uncle Greg). 

Well, bone cancer is supposedly "incurable", so when my aunt was diagnosed with it last Fall, we knew she was in for a fight. At the longest, she'd be here for 20 years.  The shortest time frame being a few months.  Aunt Amy went through chemo and radiation and it halted the cancer...for a time.  She struggled a lot with nausea, throwing up, and severe back pain due to the cancer and also the medicine she was taking.

She never seemed to get better.  She'd have a good day and then the next day she'd be back in the hospital because she couldn't keep any food down. 

A week or so before we left for our annual beach vacation, we were up North visiting with Grandma.  Our conversation turned to Aunt Amy and their family and Grandma said she would be shocked if Aunt Amy was here at Christmas.  She wasn't getting better and she (as well as Grandma) thought it must be her liver failing.  Fast forward to the next week.  I was reading my Bible in a comfy chair at the beach and Hannah came and asked me if I heard about Uncle Greg's call.  I said no and she said that Aunt Amy had gone to the hospital again.  Tests were being run but the doctor said he didn't think she'd be here for more than 1-3 months.  Uncle Greg said he'd call back the next day (Friday) to tell us the test results.  My cousin, Erika, was sitting on the couch opposite me and she asked me what was wrong (she could tell something was up by our faces and voice tone).  We told her about Aunt Amy and she started crying.  She said she just couldn't imagine not having her mom alive anymore.  That made all of us cry.  Erika knows my cousins, Amanda and Diana a little bit, so the fact that she knew them, and knew that they wouldn't have a mom much longer overwhelmed her.

Friday dawned and we heard from Uncle Greg.  Aunt Amy's liver was practically failing and the cancer had gone into her stomach (as well as being in her bones).  Uncle Greg asked the doctor to be realistic in giving him an idea of how long he thought she would live.  "Less than a week" was his reply.

If it was possible to completely drain your tear ducts, Uncle Greg said he did that Friday.

Saturday morning as we prepared to leave the beach for home, we told Aunt Mae-Mae about Aunt Amy and we all started crying again.

We were planning on going up North to be with Uncle Greg, Aunt Amy, and family but we didn't end up leaving til Sunday afternoon.  Daddy, Hannah, Lexi, and I headed up late that afternoon.  We stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's first then went to the hospital.  Aunt Amy was on the oncology floor, Room 250.  We walked in the room and I immediately noticed the pink paper chains strung all over the room.  (Amanda, Diana, and one of their cousins hung them up.)  We gave Uncle Greg a hug and went over and told Aunt Amy we were there and that we loved her.  Aunt Amy didn't say or move much due to the pain and the drugs.  She murmured a little bit.  Her hair was mostly gone (due to the chemo and radiation) and she was a bit yellow in color (either due to lack of sun exposure or from the toxins her liver couldn't filter out anymore) We then talked with Amanda, our cousin, and her friend, Kara for a little while.  We went and peeped through the windows of the postnatal care unit and saw a beautiful newborn.  It gave a person a little hope to see a new life after seeing a life that was nearing its end.

Monday afternoon Mommy came up with the rest of the troops (my sibs :) and we met at the hospital.  We all said hi to Aunt Amy again and then spent some time with the cousins.

Tuesday we went up to the hospital twice because we were leaving that night.  We knew next time we came up Aunt Amy most likely wouldn't be there....and we wanted to spend as much time with her as we could.

Grandma went up to the hospital around lunchtime with Hannah and Lexi.  I followed later with Mama.  When we got there, Hannah and Lexi went out of the room to go see Amanda and Grandma went to work.  Mom and I stayed in the room with Aunt Amy and her brother and niece.  Aunt Amy's niece, Marissa, left after a little while to go "help" Amanda with her homework - :) -  and so it was three of us in the room.  The room was so still and quiet and Aunt Amy was resting so peacefully.  After some time of silence Mama started talking with Aunt Amy's brother.  Aunt Amy stirred and her brother asked if she needed anything.  She asked for some water and I went and got some ice water from the nurse.  Aunt Amy took two sips and then just wanted to rest some more.  Somehow---sometime--someone mentioned Amanda and Aunt Amy, in her weak, quiet voice asked "Is she okay?"  I tried to hold back the was Aunt Amy, in pain and dying, and she only wondered if her daughter was doing okay.  It makes me cry just thinking about it!

After dinner that night, we all came back up to the hospital.  Daddy had left a little before us (we drove separately), so it was just all the Wass kids and Mama who crept in the hospital at 8:35 P.M.  We had to get badges and show our I.D.'s (if we were over 15) to be able to get into the hospital.  After that, we went to Aunt Amy's room (she had been moved to hospice earlier in the afternoon).  The door was closed, so Mama went in and talked to Aunt Amy's sister who was staying the night.  She agreed to let us all come in and say goodbye to Aunt Amy, even though all the lights were off and she was sleeping.  Mama took the youngest ones in first.  Lexi and I were about to go in when Lydia said she wanted to give Aunt Amy a hug.  Mama said she couldn't really give her a hug but that she could go back in and give her hand a hug.   When Aunt Amy felt her hand being picked up, she turned and looked at Lydia and said "Hi sweetie".  Mama came out of the room crying.

Lexi and I went in next.  Lexi talked to Aunt Amy first.  She told her she was there and that she loved her.  Aunt Amy then tried to say something but Lexi couldn't really understand her.  She guessed that she said "I love you" back.  Lexi then said something along the lines of "Jesus loves and cares for you."  Then she said "Thank you for all you've done" and Aunt Amy whispered out "I'm sorry."  I was trying to hold myself together so I would be able to say something to Aunt Amy but those words made me lose it and I couldn't stop crying.  (Good thing the lights were off so no one could see.)   I finally stopped the crying and made my way over to her bedside.  I picked up her soft, smooth hand and leaned over.

"I love you, Aunt Amy" I said.

I couldn't really hear it but the faint sound and her lip movements said "I love you" back.  

And I totally lost it.

I sucked in a deep sob and had to rush out of the room so I wouldn't cry out loud and disturb her.  Deep racking sobs filled me and I had to rush to the bathroom to find toilet paper to wipe the tears away.

I would never hear those words from Aunt Amy again.

We left the hospital (Mama, Lexi, and I were all crying on the way out) and I cried again in the car.  I knew I wouldn't see Aunt Amy on this earth again and the crying helped me to let go of her.  I prayed so much on that ride home...prayed for Uncle Greg, Amanda, Diana, and Stephen, and thanked God for my beautiful Aunt Amy.

The days went by and we waited to hear news of Aunt Amy.  Yesterday we got a call from Uncle Greg and he said she was unresponsive and that her heart and breathing had started to do irregular things.

My Aunt Amy passed from this life, into the more glorious one, at midnight.

Hannah and I had just finished our morning jog and stretch, and we went to check email.  Two emails awaited us with the sad news.  I went up to get Seth to come to the barn with me and I told him about Aunt Amy...and I started crying.  As I waited for him to come out to the car so we could go to work, I sat and thanked God for her life, through my numerous tears.

My Aunt Amy had a beautiful life.  I loved, and still do, love her so much.  She was a great Aunt, Mother, and Wife and I can't wait to see her in heaven one day.

Goodbye, Aunt Amy.  We all love and miss you already!

Please keep my three cousins (and Uncle) in your prayers as they adjust to the loss of their Mama and wife.

 Aunt Amy, Uncle Greg, Mama, and Daddy.


  1. Wow, Kimber. I'm really sorry to hear about your Aunt. I will be praying for your family.


  2. Hi Kimber, I knew your aunt and uncle in college and I just read about her death in our alumni magazine. Your aunt, uncle, and I all took Latin together, and while I completely lost touch with your aunt after college, I never forgot her. I found your blog when trying to find out when she had passed away. I'm a three-time survivor of breast cancer and your story of her grace at the end of her battle has moved and inspired me, as I'm still working on battle #3 (about to start radiation after finishing chemo.) God bless your family. Christy (Gaines) Stuart, MWC Class of '92.