Conscious living, conscious dying

Here it is late March. SO far the first quarter of the year has flown by. The trees are leafing out right now. All of a sudden there are tiny green leaves everywhere, competing with the flowers on the magnolia, plum, and cherry trees.

Spring is here, and the blue skies and warmer days has come the realization that life goes on... and so does death and dying. Today I learned that one of my sisters has been lying to me about what she's been getting medical treatment for. Two years ago she had surgery to have tumors removed. 6 months ago, she learned cancer is back. She's been doing chemo in the three months since I last saw her and today she decided to stop. Its not working, she said. They want to do a PET scan because they think its in her bones now, too. She didn't want to trouble me with it until she knew what she was dealing with, she said. But when the inevitable happens, will I raise her daughter? What the hell?

I'm feeling angry and sad again. I know it is natural. This is my baby sister. The one I diapered, the one I dressed for her first day of school. The one who tried to kill herself 2 years ago. Life is strange. My lover insisted I put my head on his chest and listen to his heart beat, and as I did, the tears fell. So much loss so recently. And so much fear. When/if my sister dies and when/if I raise my niece, everything changes, including my relationship with him.

"How are you feeling?" he asked as I cried silently on his chest.

"I feel this tremendous sense of loss. I'm going to lose my sister and I'm going to lose you."

"Don't make assumptions," he said, holding me close.

"I'm being pragmatic," was my response. "Time to make some changes. I think I'm going to have to go back to work in corporate America."

"Yes," he said, "If you're going to have responsibility for your niece you're definitely going to need to make some economic changes."

Indeed. And in the meantime, my sister is alive and living her life as fully as she can. She's asked me to respect her wishes not to tell other members of the family, including her children. It's her secret to tell, when she's ready.