A death in the family
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16-10-2011, 01:23 PM
A death in the family
My cousin died of brain, throat, and lung cancer yesterday evening at the age of 33. First off, let me say that I am not the least bit sad because, as a realist, I realize that she would have been in constant pain for every minute longer that she was alive. My cousin had been in and out of the hospital her entire life. They had to put a rod in her back when she was younger, forcing her to wear a full torso cast until it healed. This is where her family nickname of “turtle” came from. As a young woman, she lost one of her breasts to cancer. Two years later, the cancer came back and spread to her brain. I had lost touch with her for at least a decade up to this point, so I really wanted to see her. I’m a bit of a clown, so I made it my job to make her laugh as much as possible when I visited her at her home. I took pictures with her because I thought it might be the last time I would see her. However, her condition seemed to improve a little. I meant to visit her again, but I never got a chance. Her condition eventually declined over the proceeding four months, prompting her to go back to her radiation treatments. It was during this time when the hospital over radiated her brain. The family switched facilities so they could repair the damage and continue with her treatments. A week later, the brain cancer spread to her throat and lungs like wild fire. My sister went to visit her, but I didn’t because I have been bogged down with school work lately. I rationalized that I had seen her a few months prior, but I felt extremely guilty when I later learned that she had lapsed into a coma. So I called off from work and went to see her at the hospital. My great uncle, her father, asked me to sit with her and tell her stories in order to keep her mind stimulated. This would keep her alive long enough her for brother to make his way back from Afghanistan. With the exception of going to the rest room and running up the street to bring back some fast food, I sat by her side from 7:30 pm Friday evening until sometime passed 1 am Saturday morning (when her brother finally arrived) telling her funny stories. I even did silly things like playing “thumb wars” with her and commenting on how she was turning into a Smurf (her skin turned blue from low oxygen levels). Like I said, she was in a coma, but I’m sure she could probably hear what I was saying. This is how I got rid of my guilt and came to terms with her eventual death. My great uncle and the other members of my family have thanked me for what I did. I’m glad I did it too.

The entire time I was in the hospital, I was constantly bombarded with Christianity. First, I saw copies of the New Testament just about everywhere I looked. It wasn’t a complete Bible, just the New Testament. I guess when you have a dying family member, reading about incest, rape, genocide, and child murder in the Old Testament is just not consoling enough. Second, my cousins’ mother turned on the TV in the room to see some raunchy version of the Dating Game hosted by Jerry Springer called Baggage. The point of the game was for the female contestants to reveal the quirks of their personality or personal life that might alienate the male suitor. One of the three girls made all of her life choices based on WWJD? (What would Jesus Do?). The suitor was obviously looking for a piece of ass, so this particular girl—as sexy as she was—most likely wouldn’t do the nasty things he was looking for. When she was dismissed from the show, she told the suitor: “Jesus wouldn’t want anything to do with you” (like it was an insult or something). Third, my aunt pulled from her purse some tan colored river rocks with “Jesus” written on them with a sharpie marker. These were made by one of her friends. I guess they were supposed to be held during prayer or something. For people who claim that the Bible is 100% true, that idolatry is a sin, and that the religion has never ever borrowed from foreign faiths, they sure do have different views on what constitutes proper devotional ritual. Fourth, although I never actually saw any of my family members pray, there was a whole lot of “Honey, it’s okay to pass. Grandma and grandpa are waiting for you in heaven” (my great-grandparents, her grandparents, died years ago). Hearing and seeing all of this, I felt like the person on the outside looking in. It all just seemed so unbelievable silly.

One of THE craziest things that I heard while I was there was when my aunt’s new husband claimed that my cousin, who was still alive at the time, had come to him in a dream the night before. He said that she was wearing a white dress and said “I am going to pass at 7 am tomorrow (Sunday) morning.” Being a nut, my aunt accepted the prediction whole heartedly. My great-uncle just brushed the prediction off like it was dirt on his shoulder. Guess when she died………9:30 pm Saturday evening. It’s shit like this that really makes me glad that I am a rational skeptic. Even if she had died at 7am on Sunday morning, it would have just been an interesting coincidence. Now, if her husband had a 100% track record of predicting people’s deaths, then it wouldn’t have been a coincidence. But automatically bowing to supernatural agencies would have been a huge leap in logic.

I honestly think that I am the only atheist in my rather large family. My mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, aunts and uncles, and ungodly number of cousins (at least the ones I have contact with) are all some denomination of Christianity. I have “atheist” prominently displayed in the religion section of my Facebook profile. I’m really surprised that no one has tried to give me hell over it. I’m just glad that I wasn’t at the hospital when the pastor came to talk to my cousin and the rest of the family. I’m sure he would have noticed my lack of interest in his superstition. I’m not really a vocal atheist, but I’m not so timid that I would bow my head in mock prayer just to keep from causing a row. It would have been hypocritical of me and disrespectful to the believers in the room. As long as I took the time out of my busy schedule to drive 2 hours to see her, sit with her for 6 hours telling her stories, spending the night at the hospital, and then being with her in the last few hours of her life, it shouldn’t matter if I’m not joining in to send telepathic radio signals to the Cosmic Jewish Zombie in the sky.

Okay, I’m done rambling now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming that is already in progress.
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16-10-2011, 03:40 PM
RE: A death in the family
I'm sorry to hear about your cousin and the frustrating moments with some people in your last moments together. It sounds like you have a few beautiful memories to keep, that is very special. I have been in similar situations to understand the frustration but try to keep the wisdom of holding onto the better moments and letting the more painful ones go. Take care of yourself.
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17-10-2011, 11:27 AM
RE: A death in the family
(16-10-2011 03:40 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  I'm sorry to hear about your cousin and the frustrating moments with some people in your last moments together. It sounds like you have a few beautiful memories to keep, that is very special. I have been in similar situations to understand the frustration but try to keep the wisdom of holding onto the better moments and letting the more painful ones go. Take care of yourself.

Thank you. Her funeral is on Wednesday. She is going to be buried next to my great-grand parents in what could be considered the family graveyard. There are many people from both my mom's and dad's side of the family buried there. I personally want to be cremated (after donating as many organs as I can), but I think being interred in a family mausoleum or ossuary would be pretty cool.
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17-10-2011, 11:54 AM
RE: A death in the family
That really sucks man. I'm glad that she died in that it sounds as though it finally relieved her of the pain she was living with. Some people just can't seem to catch any breaks in life that's for sure.

Don't spend too much time thinking over the religious crap that tends to prop it's head whenever death is a possibility in life. The only time I'd expect someone to make a big fuss is when it's in direct contrast to the person's dying wishes. Otherwise it's just one of those times when we as atheists just have to grin and bear it really.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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19-10-2011, 10:12 PM (This post was last modified: 20-10-2011 12:23 AM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: A death in the family
They had her funeral today. They wanted to do it yesterday, but the forecast said it was going to rain. It sprinkled a little on Tuesday, but damn near flooded everything today. It was a SHITTY day for a funeral.

I knew that I would have to put up with the reading of scripture, but nothing prepared me for the generic sermon that was given. You could tell that the person had never met my cousin before she died, nor did he know the family. Most of what was said aside from scripture seemed like he was making it up as he went along. What really pissed me off was when the guy started to proselytize in the middle of the funeral. He had learned from talking with some family members that my cousin "had known Christ" during her life. He then tried to sway any "unsaved souls" in the family to accept Christ because conversion would allow them to see my cousin again (i.e. carrot on a stick). Another thing that pissed me off is that they played sad music over the speakers. It was already a sad enough time, why make it worse?

Anyway, my sister and the rest of my family were balling out their eyes, but I didn't even shed a tear. I'm just glad my cousin isn't in pain anymore.
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20-10-2011, 12:20 AM
RE: A death in the family
I'm so sorry you've lost your cousin… sounds like you may have been the one person in the family to give some levity to her situation. 33 is very young, but our bodies can only take so much. She was probably so grateful you came to visit her months before the end, while she was still able to comprehend what was going on.
Ugh, rain at a funeral- that is pretty shitty. But what I find completely insulting is the preacher practically busking for souls!! Angry

They say everyone grieves in their own way and I think that's true. I'm sure all the sad songs and religious trappings were for your family's grief. It may be all they can expect since they've "given her over to God". You are glad to have known, shared laughter, and loved her, and you are relieved to know she's not in pain anymore -you are truly contemplating the loss of your cousin.

Heart Take care and be healthy during this vulnerable time.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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20-10-2011, 07:26 AM
RE: A death in the family
The idiot was basically giving a sermon at the funeral? I would've made him regret that.
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your cousin but the way I look at it is that she may be dead but death is not sometihn that should be so sad. Her pain has stopped and so will yours eventually.

I recently lost two family members, an uncle and a cousin. There was a funeral bit there was not much in the way of sadness. In it's place was a 3 day long massive party. We celebrate their life even though it ended abrubtly. Everyone was smashed for days and there was jokes like "At least they don't have to deal with these dam taxes anymore." or "Good thing our unlce isn't here or we'd be out of booze by now."

What I'm trying to say is that death is what you make of it. We truely don't know what awaits us when we die so the best we can do is see the departed off as best we can.

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