Would I pull the trigger in the same position?
I can’t come close to answering that. I don’t think you really know the decision you would make, or understand the courage it would take. I don’t really understand what she was facing, unable to alter it.
In the end, it came down to MS; or her life.
My Aunt DeAnne was the cutup of the three kids when she was young. She was energetic and funny in a down-home sort of way. My mom and my Uncle Bill were both older; and a lot more mature in some ways; so DeAnne didn’t have to be. Everything was funny to her, and she laughed so the whole world could hear her. Often, that laugh included a number of snorts, something I think I inherited with just a hint of woe.
I remember well visiting her once or twice in her home town, and running the house; up and down the creaky wood floors and spinning at the top off of the polished wood banister. She’d fuss at us for making such mischief; smile; and walk away to leave us doing it again. She knew what joy was like; especially the joy of childhood.
Family Christmas gatherings weren’t the same without her being there, and she always showed up with lumps of coal for all the kids. Heck, I’d have no idea what a lump of coal was without Aunt DeAnne!
Marriage was the place she struggled. She and Uncle John never seemed like a matched set. He was so quiet and angry. She was so out there and loud. But they held it together for quite a while “for the kids,” before the final days of marriage occurred and the word “divorced” entered their lives.
In the years that followed, she finished raising the kids, Ted and Theresa; and became something of a shadow to me. I seldom saw her once I got married and moved on with my life. Like many large families, we grew a little bit apart geographically and emotionally.
The good news arrived about six years ago. My Aunt DeAnne was getting married again! I felt such joy for her. Maybe she had found the right guy this time; one that would appreciate the gifts she brings to the heart. We got to meet Tom, and he was just right! He so love my aunt and it was obvious she loved him as well. Ted and Theresa just beamed, and the baby Theresa just had in her marriage would have a happy grandma to care for and love her!
I wish life worked that way ALL the time.
I wish that some things would work themselves out, and in the end, everybody could live happily ever after. It is such a great wish; such a beautiful picture; to imagine my Aunt DeAnne laughing and playing again with her grandkids.
I know I wished that for my aunt DeAnne. She had so much to offer; had sacrificed so much for her kids. But in my heart of hearts I also know that life can turn on you sometimes.
We have to ask sometimes why God allows pain and suffering; why bad things happen to good people? Two short months after the marriage, when Aunt DeAnne and her new husband had moved to Tennessee to begin a life together, Aunt DeAnne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She was having difficulty speaking and occasionally slurred her words. Balance had become an issue for her.
I don’t think she wanted to believe anything was really wrong with her at such a happy time of her life, and she fought it so hard.
She travelled back to Kansas City for a family thing; I don’t really remember what, and I was shocked at how much she had changed in so little time! Movement and speech were so difficult for her already. The disease was moving fast and quickly overtaking her body and her life.
She tried to smile and talk a little to me, but the effort was wasted because I could not understand her. Tears started to form around her eyes, and all I could do was hug her and try hard not to cry in front of the kids.
Grown up guys don’t cry,..right?
I patted her lightly on the cheek and wiped a tear away, knowing that her mind was fine, but quickly becoming entombed in a body that was wasting away around her. I told her that I loved her, and felt the light squeeze of the hand that she was able to muster in that moment.
I remember thinking how very brave she had to be; no choice. Tom, her husband of four or five months, was working so hard to support her and give her everything she ever needed. He changed her diapers constantly, and worked so hard to keep her spirits up with kind words and teasing. He fed her and massaged the throat to get the food down. He constantly kissed her on the cheeks.
They left to go home to Tennessee. A short two weeks later, we got the phone call. While Tom was away at work, and the caregiver was off site for groceries thinking Aunt DeAnne was asleep, Aunt DeAnne found a way to get up out of her chair, move to the bedroom, write a note that nobody could read; then load a pistol and shoot herself in the head.
She was gone.
I don’t understand everything about this; not even close. I think that maybe she decided that she would go out her way; not by this crippling killer. I know she loved Tom and I am sure she hated for his life to become nursemaid to; what in her mind, was probably a cripple. Maybe she didn’t want him to suffer with her as she suffered.
I can’t imagine what it had to be like to be forced into this decision. Had she waited any longer, she would not have been physically able to pull the trigger. There was no getting better. There were no long conversations with loved ones to figure things out. She was alone with her thoughts and scared out of her wits, I am sure.
She had to be terrified to point that gun at herself. It had to be so painful to get the arm just right and the gun pointed just right, and to find the hand-eye coordination to even pull the trigger.
I’ve wondered what she thought or saw in her mind’s eye before she pulled that trigger? Maybe her kids playing in the yard, or amazing Christmas moments where the magic sparkled in the eyes of the little believers? Maybe of Tom’s selfless acts for her and all that mattered most to her about joy?
Maybe a life does flash in your eyes before the final moment? I’d like to think so,…all the joys and love relived a last time is just what I would wish for her.
I do know this though.
The one distinguishable word she managed to scrawl on that note will never leave my heart.
She found just enough to legibly scrawl “love.”