We are blessed who have had a normal life and our experiences with death have gone according to plan.
My mother and father raised seven children. None of their children died before their parents. Things worked out chronologically as they should.
My mother died at the age of 80, my father passed away two years later. She died quite suddenly after a walk. My father died from complications of pneumonia.
They lived to see all of their kids grown and married with successful lives. They were proud of their children and proud of themselves because all seven children completed high school and four of them obtained college degrees.
Recently a young local woman, only 25 year old, and a newlywed, lost her brief battle with cancer. She knew from the day of diagnosis that she was fighting an incurable disease. But Jessie did not take that diagnosis and sit down to die.
I first met Jessie Garrett through her newspaper columns with the Clay County Progress. I followed her blog and eventually followed her rough journey on Facebook. In her last posts she asked for prayers that the clinical trials she was a part of might have the answers for her. But later her doctors told her to go home and prepare for the end of her life. I wept. So many admired this upbeat, never-give-up, inspiring woman and we wonder again, why do the good die young?
As I think about her parents and siblings, I give thanks that all of my brothers and sisters grew to adulthood, married and, those who wanted them, had children. Although I am still grieving the deaths of my brothers, I appreciate the fact that I had them for so long. Two were in their seventies and one in his eighties.
None of them died out of order. None of them died as young men. How hard it must be to lose a child, to outlive your children is not the way it should be, but Jessie's folks have buried their bright, fun-loving and compassionate daughter.
I hope she knew how much her courage affected all who read her columns and posts online. My husband had just been diagnosed with lymphoma when I read Jessie's column in the local paper. I followed her religiously as we were going through much of what she did. She and I exchanged a few emails. The many tests, the chemo, the radiation, the fear, the ups and downs, and all the many emotions she expressed so well in her writing were happening to Barry.
He read her articles and remembered things she said. Atavan was terrific for those going through cancer Jessie said. Barry found that to be true as his pain worsened and his fear of more pain filled him with anxiety.
From the beginning she knew her Cancer was considered incurable. Barry was told by his oncologist that his cancer could be put into remission, and he would have to treat it for the rest of his life, but gave us no hint that he would be dead in one year.
Jessie outlived Barry although their struggle paralleled for one year. Barry had many people praying for him and he believed those prayers would pull him through.
Perhaps Jessie thought the same things. She had many, many followers who prayed for her.
Although my life has been wonderful, and I had a great man for 45 years, I am also grateful for my living sisters and one brother and my sisters and brothers- in- law.
Jessie met and married an unusual man who gave her all he could in the short time they had together. My heart goes out to him and to Jessie's family. I know their hearts must be broken and I offer them my sympathy, my best wishes and hope they will find peace in time..
So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca