Amid all the despair and sadness of the past few weeks, I managed to find something really beautiful. I thought God gave me this day to tell me that things will be better.
My niece had lost her 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer the day before this video was taken. When she was first diagnosed I was about to leave for my India/Bangladesh vacation in 2012. I remember that clearly because I phoned my brother just to give him a heads up that I will be out of the country for a month and our elderly mother who lives with me has all the sitter she needed at that time. I always ring my brothers and email them later whenever I leave so that they know my whereabouts and at the same time ask if they could drop by the house to see mom, as she gets sad when I'm not around.
Anyway, when I rang him he said he's in LA because my niece is in the hospital. They discovered something in her insides they don't know yet, but likely cancerous in nature. She was a very strong intelligent woman with 3 small children, ages 10, 7 and 5. The tumor was small when they found it in her pancreas, chemo blasted it or something. She had a few months of health. But it came back, more aggressive or something. I don't know really what happened. I get different versions depending on who I talk to. Needless to say, pancreatic cancer is tough to beat.
Long story short, she kept battling until the very last breath. My SIL (her mom) told us that under the respirator she mumbled: IT'S TIME. She bravely chose her ending. I don't know how she did that, but you know I'm not very surprised because while alive she's been doing things I'm afraid to touch with a 10 foot pole. And while technically I am her aunt, our age gap is merely 7 years and we're more "cousins".
She was in the ICU for a couple of weeks before she passed. We saw her on the first week and she was without respirator, but by the next week she just couldn't breathe on her own. The chemo made her lung linings (pleura I think) very thin that enabled water to fill her lungs making it very difficult to breathe. She had tube on her side, or back, to drain fluid. She was suffering too much.
Anyway, when the plan to take a short weekend trip to the mountains she was in status quo. Nothing was said about taking the respirator off. On Ash Wednesday, my hubs phone rang while we were in church. I stepped out to take the call and my brother said it's bad news. Her ICU doctors said they cannot do anything else for her. The husband asked if he could take her case in Stanford for second opinion. My travel plans were hanging in the balance until Friday afternoon.
We decided to push through with the trip on Friday evening. When we were leaving for our trip on Saturday morning, I rang my brother to check on them. They were arranging funeral services. That was when I found out that my niece and her family decided that she would go that Saturday, respirator would be taken out at 2 pm.
With our bags packed we drove to the hospital to say our last goodbye. Other nephews and nieces picked up my mom and drove her to the hospital for their last goodbye as well.
The whole drive, I had one eye on my phone. By 2 pm, I texted my nephew to ask if he's still in the hospital. By 3 pm, I got a text saying she passed on. It was a tough road trip. Road trips usually give me boost, a therapy for whatever ailed me in past.
The snow was unexpected. Days before the trip I kept calling the lodge to inquire about weather. When all I heard was sunny skies without chance of snow, I packed accordingly. Then on our second day, we awoke to this.....
I captured our travel buddies going to their car to get to the restaurant for breakfast.
Not my first winter wonderland experience, but it's the first in a very very long time.
Who knew snowfall can be very comforting and therapeutic?