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4:25 p.m. - 2004-11-05

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I hesitated on writing anything about this, but it's been the big deal around my house lately and today it just got ... I can't even think of the proper word.

My aunt who I've written about before here who's been very sick the last few years was given six months to live back in June.

Thursday morning at 3:30 a.m. she woke up with a horrible headache and asked my uncle to get her some aspirin.

He got up, went to the bathroom came back and she was unconscious, having slipped into a coma.

Apparently her brain was hemmoraghing and was full of blood.

I got the call about this late yesterday morning. My parents left South Carolina early this morning to drive to Illinois to be at her bedside.

She and my Mom are sisters and I practically grew up in her house the first 10 years of my life, as she had two boys close to my age.

I just got a call from my sister who said she now has brain damage and is basically a vegetable now. She had a living will and will apparently be taken off life support within the next day or two.

The only reason I'm really writing about this is that it's important to me and ... well ... here's the weird thing ... Andrew got a birthday card from her today.

She had mailed it on Wednesday, basically the last day she was conscious. It was so weird to read it because she's talking about how everyone's fine and she's been doing a lot of reading lately and how she misses and loves us.

I'm guessing it was the last bit of correspondence that she'll ever make.

Although I heard that on the same day, she mailed my Mom a package ... a framed picture of her taken a few weeks ago.

My Mom won't get it until she comes back from Illinois.

That's going to be really sad for Mom ... because ... and I'm usually very optimistic in these situations ... but I think that this will prove to be her final trip to the hospital.

I just got a call from my sister who said that my aunt is now brain-damaged and there's very little hope that she'll emerge from this coma. Even if she did, her heart is so weak that it would probably kill her if she did come out.

My aunt is a beautiful person. She's only 63, she never smoke or drank and went to church faithfully.

She was a school teacher, teaching special education students.

She raised five great kids and never left the small Illinois farm town in which she was first born.

For the first five years of my life, I was convinced that I was one of her kids because that's where I spent the majority of my time as both my parents worked.

She's the first adult I ever made laugh. She was a scout mother for my cub scout troop and we were making S'mores one day and I couldn't get mine right. She tried to help me position the marshmallow on top of the chocolate bar on top of the graham cracker and I finally just snapped "I think you're just doing this to irritate me!"

She laughed and laughed and laughed.

It made me feel so good to make an adult laugh that I spent a large portion of the rest of my life trying to make others laugh with varied results.

She was the first though.

And I will miss her and love her as much as I would my own mother.

I'm not looking for sympathy here or a lot of kind words from anyone. Honestly, they won't make me feel any better and they're wasted on me anyway since her real children and husband and grandchildren are the ones who really deserve any prayers or well-wishes.

But after receiving Andrew's birthday card in the mail just now, I had to get this off my chest.

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